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Baylor Health Care System to Implement Nicotine-free Hiring Policy in 2012

Sept 22, 2011 – Last month Joel Allison, president and CEO, reinforced Baylor’s commitment to wellness and the fight against tobacco usage.

Starting January 1, 2012, Baylor Health Care System will be the first major employer in North Texas to stop hiring nicotine users.

This new policy is just another way we strive to set the standard for health and wellness in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

We’re serious about stopping tobacco use. We agree with the Center for Disease Control (CDC)… “We can prevent the staggering toll that tobacco takes on individuals, families, and communities.

FAQ: Tobacco Cessation & Nicotine Policy
News Coverage
Key Facts
Challenge to Current Employees


Frequently Asked Questions: Thrive Tobacco Cessation & Nicotine Testing

(Last Updated September 13, 2011)

Q: Is nicotine testing part of the onsite Health Screening?
A: No, starting Jan. 1, 2012 we are only testing new employees for nicotine as a normal part of our post offer prescreening process.

Q: Are we testing for nicotine on any Baylor employees?
A: Yes, there is a new nicotine screening that will be provided as part of the drug screen process for new employees. However, we are not testing current employees.

Q: Will employment applicants know upfront that we will be testing for nicotine?
A: Yes, it will be stated clearly on the application.

Q: What will happen to current employees who continue to use tobacco/nicotine?
A: At this time, the new policy does not apply to current employees of Baylor Health Care System. BHCS and other organizations are making a decision to focus on a healthier workforce that models a healthier life style for our patients. A healthier workforce means better care for our patients as well as setting an example for our communities. We believe this will motivate our patients towards a healthier lifestyle assisting them to make positive lasting changes.
We want to encourage healthy habits, so we will support current employees who want to quit by providing free tobacco cessation programs. A healthy lifestyle is the key to continued well-being, and we know changing your lifestyle for the better takes time and real effort. But, with the help of this program, you can do it. And it’s worth the effort. Quitting tobacco/nicotine can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke and improve your self-esteem. You can review more information regarding the Tobacco Cessation Program at http://thrive.baylorhealth.edu/smoking.html.

Q: Nicotine-free – does this apply to our vendors and partners?
A: Not currently. We are exploring ways to help them become nicotine-free in the future.

Q: Why nicotine users and not other behaviors/habits?
A: We are starting with tobacco cessation. This is part of a progression on our journey of winning the war against preventable disease.

Q: Why did BHCS make this decision?
A: Not hiring nicotine users is part of a national trend. Many other health care organizations are making the decision not to hire nicotine users as part of a broader well-being initiative. The use of nicotine products is the leading cause of preventable death in this country. As an organization that provides health care, we want to encourage BHCS employees to take better care of their health and set good examples for our patients. It is time to be role models for health and wellness. It is time for each of us to take care of ourselves so we can lead by example and take care of others.

Q: How will this new policy work?
A: We will place information for prospective candidates on our career website informing them of our nicotine-free hiring policy. Applicants who profess to use nicotine will not have their applications processed. Such applicants are encouraged to complete a tobacco cessation course. We will also test for nicotine as a normal part of our post offer prescreening process. For many years, BHCS has conducted post job offer employment drug testing for all new hires. Starting January 1, 2012, nicotine will be added to substances looked for in this urine test. This policy will also apply to volunteers and employed physicians.

Q: Since BHCS will no longer hire individuals who use nicotine products as of January 1, 2012, what does this mean to me as a current employee who uses nicotine products?
A: At this time, the new policy does not apply to current employees of BHCS. We do want to encourage healthy habits, and employees should be role models for health and wellness. We believe this will motivate our patients towards a healthier lifestyle assisting them to make positive lasting changes. A healthier workforce means better care for our patients as well as setting an example for our communities. We will support current employees who want to quit with BHCS Thrive provided tobacco cessation programs. You will be asked whether you use tobacco products in the Health Questionnaire which include, but are not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco. . If you (or your spouse) use nicotine products, and if you are covered by the Baylor medical plan, you will pay a $25-per-pay-period surcharge each month beginning in January 2012, unless you complete a BHCS Thrive-provided tobacco cessation program or your physician certifies that you have quit using nicotine products. If it is unreasonably difficult due to a health factor for you to meet the requirements under this program (or if it is medically inadvisable for you to attempt to meet the requirements of this program), we will make available a reasonable alternative standard for you to avoid this surcharge. Changing your lifestyle for the better takes time and real effort. But, with the help of this program, you can do it. And it’s worth it. Quitting tobacco/nicotine can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke and improve your self-esteem. You can review more information regarding the Tobacco Cessation Program at http://thrive.baylorhealth.edu/smoking.html.

Q: Does this new policy affect current employees who use nicotine products?
A: This new policy does not apply to current employees. In 2007, we became smoke and tobacco free on all our campuses, so you will still not be able to use tobacco / nicotine products on campus. We will support those who want to quit using nicotine with our Tobacco Cessation program through Thrive.

Q: So why doesn’t this apply to current employees who use nicotine?
A: Changing your lifestyle for the better takes time and real effort. We have to start somewhere to foster a healthier workforce as well as to demonstrate to our patients and the community our strong commitment to health and wellness, so we’re starting with this. As a healthcare system committed to improving the health of those we serve, we are asking our employees to model the same behaviors we promote to our patients.

Q: What does the new nicotine-free hiring policy mean for people seeking employment with Baylor Health Care System?
A: Beginning January 1, 2012, Baylor will no longer hire individuals who use nicotine products. Applicants who profess to use nicotine will not have their applications processed. Anyone who is offered and accepts a position with BHCS will be tested for nicotine during our regular post offer pre-employment testing. Applicants who test positive for nicotine will be eliminated from consideration and pending job offers will be rescinded. We encourage candidates who do not pass the nicotine testing to consider taking steps to stop the use of nicotine and reapply for consideration after a period of 90 days.

Q: Who is classified as a nicotine user?
A: A nicotine user is any individual who uses nicotine products including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco. This policy also applies to e-cigarettes, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as a nicotine product. Nicotine patches and gum will test positive.

Q: What is a nicotine product?
A: A nicotine product is any type of product that contains or is made or derived from nicotine and intended for human consumption. Products that are chewed, smoked, absorbed, dissolved, inhaled, snorted, sniffed, or ingested by any other means are included, as are components, parts, or accessories of nicotine products.

Q: What if an applicant only uses nicotine socially?
This policy applies to any applicant regardless of how much they use nicotine products.

Q: Does this apply to new volunteers?
A: Yes, volunteers are part of our team that serves our patients.

Q: What if an applicant uses nicotine products now, but wants to quit? Will we hire them?
A: Applicants must be nicotine-free.

Q: Is there concern that Baylor will lose out on some talented applicants with this new policy?
A: We understand that this policy has a potential impact on an individual’s choice of employment. So yes, we might lose out on some good people. But not hiring people who use nicotine products is the trend not only in health care, but also with other employers who are looking for ways to build healthier workforces. We have an obligation to set a good example for the communities we serve. By implementing a nicotine hiring policy, we will be expecting the same healthy behaviors we encourage of our patients and their family members.


News Coverage

Dallas Morning News: Dallas-based Baylor Health Care System to Stop Hiring Smokers
September 22, 2011 – Beginning Jan. 1, if you smoke, don’t bother applying for a job at Baylor Health Care System. One of the largest employers in North Texas, Baylor has decided it won’t hire anyone who uses nicotine. That includes doctors and hospital volunteers. “We want to be a good role model to our patients and the communities we serve,” said Joel Allison, president and chief executive. “For too long, we’ve been in the sickness business. It’s time to be in the wellness business.” Read Article

DFW Print/Online
Dallas Morning News: Columnist James Ragland: Baylor Health Care System’s Nicotine Policy is a Breath of Fresh Air
Dallas Morning Views (Blog): Smokers Need Not Apply
DBJ Morning Call (Blog): Baylor Health Care System won't hire nicotine users
Dallas Business Journal: Expect more companies to stop hiring smokers, expert says
Dallas Morning News: Editorial: A bold ban on hiring smokers
SMU Daily Campus: Editorial Board: Baylor Bans Smoking Amidst Controversy

DFW Television
KDFW-TV (Fox4): Baylor: No Smokers Need Apply
KTVT-TV (CBS11): Only Non-Smokers Need Apply At Baylor
KXAS-TV (NBC5):Baylor Health to Not Hire Tobacco Users
KDAF-TV (CW33): Baylor No Longer Hires Smokers

National News Coverage
USA TODAY: Workplaces ban not only smoking, but smokers themselves
Becker’s Hospital Review: Baylor Health to Stop Hiring Tobacco Users
Fox News: Smokers Need Not Apply
NBC Nightly News: Smokers Need Not Apply


Key Facts

  • Baylor will be the first major Dallas employer to institute such a policy. Other national health care leaders have policies like this one including the Cleveland Clinic.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in this country.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, smokers have more medical visits and expenses than non-smokers and they also spend 8% of their working hours smoking.
  • According to the FDA, tobacco costs the US economy nearly $200 billion a year in medical costs and lost productivity.
  • All Baylor campuses became smoke-free in 2007.

Baylor’s Challenge to Current Employees

Baylor’s award-winning wellness program Thrive is raising the bar this Fall and we want employees to take the next step with us.

Are You Ready for the Challenge?
It’s time to set the standard for health and wellness in the Dallas Fort Worth area. To help people get and stay healthy, we need to do it as a Baylor family first by being good role models for our patients. It’s time for each of us to take care of ourselves so we can lead by example and take care of others. It’s time to really practice prevention, get active, eat well and quit using tobacco.

Starting this month, Baylor will hold onsite health screenings across the System. In October, Baylor’s annual Thrive Health Questionnaire will open. All Baylor employees are encouraged to complete the questionnaire and get a screening if you haven’t had a check-up in the last year. And starting Jan. 1, 2012, Baylor will no longer hire nicotine users.

[VIDEO] Watch the Video Message from Joel Allison, President & CEO

If employees are currently using tobacco, they are encouraged to take the next step and kick the habit…for good. We know that quitting is hard, but Baylor has resources for employees to help them meet the challenge.

The American Cancer Society developed the tobacco cessation program, Quit for Life. Baylor offers the program free to employees and their spouses, in addition to nicotine patches and gum free of charge. http://thrive.baylorhealth.edu/smoking.html

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