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Two Florida healthcare centers will screen for smokers

Dec 27, 2010 Matt Roesly

In addition to drug tests as part of the pre-employment screening process, two Florida hospitals will screen candidates for tobacco use. Any candidate who tests positive for tobacco use - either smoked or smokeless - will be removed from the applicant process, according to the Orlando Sentinel. While Florida Hospital Waterman, located in Tavares, and Florida Hospital Fish Memorial, in Orange City, will not punish existing employees who smoke off the centers' grounds, they will be persuaded to quit through employee wellness programs. Hopeful candidates, however, will be given no such leeway. "The goal is to build a healthy community," Deborah McNabb, spokeswoman at the hospital that employs 1,045, told the Daytona Beach News Journal. "We became a smoke-free workplace in 2007. This is the next step to build a healthy community." According to the News Journal, no other local healthcare facilities plan to enact such pre-employment screening measures. However, the practice is not just local to Florida. In 2007, the Cleveland Clinic started screening employees for nicotine and tobacco use. Non-smokers in hospitals sounds like a logical progression, but the practice is unlawful in 29 states and Washington, D.C. There, failing to hire qualified candidates due to their smoking habit is banned, as they are qualified as a protected class of employees under guidelines from the American Lung Association.