UAB announces tobacco-free hiring policy

Beginning next summer, new hires at the state's largest employer{}must be{}tobacco free.{} UAB Medicine is launching a tobacco-free hiring policy{}on{}July 1, 2013.

"Tobacco use is a major cause of illness and death in our state," says UAB Health System CEO Will Ferniany, Ph.D. "For more than 100 years, UAB Medicine has been dedicated to preserving health and preventing diseases in Birmingham and beyond. As health-care providers, UAB Medicine and the entities that comprise it should be role models for good health behaviors, and lead by example in the quest for good health. We believe one of the best ways to accomplish this is to encourage people to stop using tobacco products."{}{}

This includes jobs with the UAB Health System, UAB Hospital, University of Alabama Health Services Foundation, The Kirklin Clinic, The Kirklin Clinic at Acton Road, UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, University of Alabama Ophthalmology Services Foundation, Triton Health Systems L.L.C./VIVA Health Inc. and UAB Health Centers.

The policy does not apply to the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a whole.

The policy covers{}smoking, sucking/dipping, chewing or snuffing any tobacco product. Prospective employees will be tested for nicotine use as part of their pre-employment drug screening following a job offer. Those who test positive for nicotine use will not be hired.

Each year in Alabama, 7,500 people die from tobacco-related illnesses and more than 800 non-smokers die from illnesses related to secondhand smoke, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. More than 20 percent of Alabamians smoke and nearly 10 percent use smokeless tobacco.

The policy does not apply to current{}employees or individuals hired prior to July 1, 2013 who smoke or use other forms of tobacco.{}{}

UAB Medicine is not the first health-care organization to adopt this type of policy. Hospitals and health systems in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas also have stopped hiring people who use tobacco, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.