UAB Medicine tobacco policy igniting controversy

UAB Medicine's tobacco-free policy announced Wednesday was met with mixed feelings from UAB students and employees.

The tobacco-free hiring policy, which covers smoking, sucking/dipping, chewing or snuffing any tobacco product, begins July 1, 2013. Prospective employees will be tested for nicotine use as part of their pre-employment drug screening.

"I think it's wrong, I really do," said UAB student Hubert Snow. "A doctor is one thing because if a doctor smokes and tells people not to smoke, that's hypocritical. But it shouldn't matter whether you smoke or not especially when it comes to other personnel."

The policy 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.

"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."