Cleveland Clinic Bans Hiring of Smokers

Published: Jun. 28, 2007 at 3:46 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2007 at 8:49 PM EDT
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UPDATE: CLEVELAND (AP) - The Cleveland Clinic, which has targeted fatty foods at its lunch counters and scooted smokers away from its buildings and sidewalks, now will ban the hiring of anyone who smokes.

The move is part of a healthy work force initiative that included the appointment Thursday of Dr. Michael Roizen, author of a series of best-selling books on making healthy lifestyles, as the first chief wellness officer of the research hospital.

Beginning Sept. 1, Ohio's second-biggest employer with 36,300 employees will no longer hire smokers. The policy will not affect current employees, who can get free stop-smoking help from the clinic. Prospective employees will be tested for tobacco use along with drugs.

The ban is "essentially a challenge to every other major health-care organization that we want them to focus on wellness as well as illness too," Roizen said Wednesday.

The step comes after the clinic removed trans fats from its cafeteria menus and sugar-sweetened beverages from its vending machines.

Rick Wade, a spokesman for the American Hospital Association, said since virtually all hospitals ban smokers from their buildings and banning the hiring of smokers was the next logical step.

Other employers also are taking steps to get employees to stop smoking.

Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. based in Marysville, Ohio, near Columbus, stopped hiring smokers last year and ordered employees who do smoke to quit.