Texas Smokers Shunned by Employers

By Kenneth Garger 07/29/11

Some companies are now screening for tobacco use and refusing to hire anyone who tests positive.

Righteous discrimination? Photo via

Beleaguered smokers are being denied jobs in Texas. Most Americans say no to public smoking, much of the Big Apple has gone smoke-free—and now at least two employers will not hire you if you use tobacco, including smokeless varieties like snus. Trinity Mother Frances Health System released a statement telling smokers not to bother applying: “Part of the live-well policy includes not hiring tobacco users. This may be controversial, but we feel that we have an obligation to the community and ourselves to set the right example." Smokers who are already employed are not fired, but are being "encouraged" to quit and given insurance incentives to do so. East Texas Medical Center also discriminates against tobacco users—since April the company has been pre-screening all applicants for nicotine. A positive test means any employment offer is revoked, although the miscreant may reapply in six months. Cases such as these raise controversial questions about privacy, discrimination and employers' rights. Lawyers will be licking their lips.

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Ken Garger is a reporter for the New York Post. You can follow him on Twitter.