Today, the New York Times is reporting that more and more hospitals in the US are using a potential employee’s smoking status as a screening tool. This is clearly bad news for unemployed smokers looking for work in the health industry. While it infringes on private lifestyle decisions, it does become a public issue when it involves public money. Some wonder whether these kinds of restrictions represent a growing encroachment of our work lives into our private lives, where dangerous hobbies such as motorcycle riding may be next on the chopping block. My colleague from New Zealand was just telling me the other day that doctors working in her hospital were banned from mountain biking because of the potential for broken arms and legs. Makes sense I guess; what good is a doctor that cannot perform exams or operate?
Hospitals need healthy doctors and nurses – they represent a large investment with caring responsibilies that extend beyond themselves. I hope to see this policy taken forward in other countries.