There’s been a steady stream of hospitals in the first few months of this year announcing that they won’t hire smokers:
- Community Hospital of the Monterrey Peninsula
- St. Luke’s Hospital and Health Network
- Memorial Hospital
- Summa Health
It’s a bold move and, with the high rate of smoking in many health professions, it’s clearly no easy decision. So, why are health systems looking at this?
- Reducing healthcare costs: The obvious answer is the direct savings of having fewer smokers. A typical smoker costs $1,400/year more to insure than a non-smoker. Under current regulations, organizations that are imposing the costs of bad health behaviors on employees are only able to recoup a small percentage of these actual costs.
- Employee efficiency: Non-smokers spend more time working; they take fewer breaks and fewer days off due to illness. At the 2009 World Healthcare Congress, Safeway President and CEO Stephen Burd indicated that this absenteeism costs employers an additional $3,000 per smoker per year.
- Living the brand: Healthcare organizations doing this are making a pledge to live their brand. Healthcare providers have a special responsibility to promote healthy behaviors with their patients, and also the community. That responsibility starts at home, so look for more providers taking the plunge into a smoker-free workplace in the future.