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Tobacco free environment and testing for nicotine. Lawful? Thoughts?

Posted

Specializes in Cardiac. Has 5 years experience.

Had a conversation with a co-worker the other day who said he smokes, and he wants to leave current hospital, however, he is seeing more and more that surrounding hospitals / health facilities publicly state "this is a tobacco free environment," and heard that with those places, during a pre-hire health screening, the individual will be tested for nicotine.

I have other colleagues who don't use tobacco products, however, they vape, or are quitting smoking via patches, nicotine gum, etc. Even if he is aiming to quit smoking, and uses non-tobacco products to do this, wouldnt the nicotine still be present during testing? And then wouldnt he fail? I've never had to deal with it so I don't really know what to tell him. 

Has anyone heard of a colleague, or, if you personally had to do nicotine testing during a pre hire health screen and based on those results, employers refused to hire? (No matter HOW the nicotine got into their system - cigs, vape, gum, patches, etc)?  Is there a timeframe that exists where he could just "white knuckle it" through without using ANY nicotine products that would allow him to pass? 

Follow up question (out of curiosity): can a person present a MD note stating that they never used tobacco products / never been a smoker, or maybe they did in the past, and are on the path of quitting (via patches, gum, etc)? and don't currently use? Does that make a difference?

Sorry if that sounds like a terrible question... he does want to quit smoking, and wants to leave current position, however feels stuck, because of the tobacco free policy trend. He feels kinda like "well, whats the point, might as well just keep on doing what I'm doing if it doesnt make a difference." 

Curious what yalls experiences are or if you have any advice. Would appreciate it! Thanks! 

Edited by BeatsPerMinute

morelostthanfound, BSN

Specializes in CVOR/General Surgery. Has 29 years experience.

     I was buccal swabbed about ten years ago for the pre-employment screening at a hospital I was later employed at.  Not sure as to the half-life of nicotine or the legality of testing.  I would worry more that if I was a tobacco user and was offered a job, my employer-provided Insurance rates may be raised considerably in the future or certain claims may be rejected outright!  Insurance companies LOVE any justification to raise rates or deny care!

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

Have a friend that missed out on a good job . She knew she was going to be tested. Blamed it on second hand smoke from her husband?   It can happen. My understanding is nicotine is out of your system in 3-4 days.

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 19 years experience.

This kind of testing is entirely legal. Being a cigarette smoker does not make one a member of a protected class. The substance in the Vape is a tobacco product so it is still considered smoking and while it may be less damaging to the lung. There is still some risk.

Still the reason many companies (Not just hospitals) are moving toward smoking bans has to to with the fact that smokers have a greater incidence of sick days than nonsmokers.

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 28 years experience.

More authoritarian BS from Health Care entities. No different than the patriarchal nonsense from yesteryear that was imposed on (female) nurses, as if they were children. There's always something that changes every generation that they want to impose upon us.

My employer requires tobacco screenings for all their employees. Their logic is that smokers tend to have an increased risk of comorbidities; therefore, insurance companies end up paying more for smokers vs non-smokers. Individuals who either fail their screening or opt out aren't denied employment, but they do have to pay an additional fee out of each paycheck until they pass,

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 28 years experience.

I do agree that it is sensible to charge tobacco smokers more for insurance. But, some hospitals do deny employment. It's some sort of left-wing new puritanism I think. They would never do that to fat people, or those with risky sexual practices. It's BS.

See, I wouldn't call that left-wing, Emergent. Sounds like standard Right-wing corporate "cut as much cost as possible" junk. 🙂

I wasn't aware people were being denied employment, I have only seen insurance rates getting charged to the employee at a slightly higher cost.

CKPM2RN, ASN, EMT-P

Specializes in Emergency. Has 4 years experience.

The medical system I hired with and the competing medical system in the area both test for nicotine and have for at least 5 years or more. They don't yet test for hamburger grease or Big Gulp consumption. 

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 8 years experience.

3 hours ago, CKPM2RN said:

They don't yet test for hamburger grease or Big Gulp consumption. 

hahaha OMG! I think that would weed out too many potential employees!

Honyebee, CNA

Specializes in Customer service.

3 hours ago, LibraNurse27 said:

hahaha OMG! I think that would weed out too many potential employees!

 

7 hours ago, CKPM2RN said:

The medical system I hired with and the competing medical system in the area both test for nicotine and have for at least 5 years or more. They don't yet test for hamburger grease or Big Gulp consumption. 

My insurance tests for everything annually, or I pay a higher payment. I just completed my full physical exam, CMP, and others like nicotine.  So far, it's all great. No complain here. I'm way better nowadays than before. I learned to use DASH recipes without changing my favorite meals.

Edited by Honyebee

Honyebee, CNA

Specializes in Customer service.

On 9/23/2021 at 8:50 PM, Emergent said:

I do agree that it is sensible to charge tobacco smokers more for insurance. But, some hospitals do deny employment. It's some sort of left-wing new puritanism I think. They would never do that to fat people, or those with risky sexual practices. It's BS.

That's insane if they have to pick a target. Everyone should get assess and encourage for improving well being. I have been reading about diseases around women's plumbing system. It's interesting.