Scott & White Healthcare to Only Hire Tobacco-Free Employees

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If you smoke or use other tobacco products you won't be hired by one of the area's largest employers.

Temple-based Scott & White Healthcare announced Thursday it is launching a tobacco-free hiring policy for all new hires on January first.

News 3 has been looking into this story and learned this policy will also affect candidates applying to work at the new hospital being built in College Station.

You already can't use tobacco while on the Scott & White campuses, but now new employees will have to declare they are tobacco-free during the pre-employment period.

Smokers are finding fewer and fewer places to light up or even chew tobacco.

Scott & White is the latest healthcare provider including Baylor Health Care System and the Cleveland Clinic cracking down on employees' bad habits.

Current employees will be grandfathered in and won't be forced to quit but will be encouraged to enroll in free smoking cessation programs.

This will also potentially eliminate some candidates as the new Scott & White Hospital opens in College Station next August.

"We're in the process of hiring staff members for that hospital. We'll hire approximately 200 plus staff members prior to the opening of August 1st. Any of those staff members that are hired after January 1 when this policy takes effect will be under that new policy," said Lindsey Joy, Marketing Director for Scott & White Healthcare.

"We don't actually test the employee on hire for, for nicotine or for tobacco use but we will have them attest to the fact that they are not a user and they will also agree to be tested in the future," explained Marc Hallee, Chief Human Resources Officer for Scott & White Healthcare.

Officials say the policy will make for a healthier workforce. Current employees that do use tobacco are charged an extra $50 a month if they are enrolled in the company's health plan.

News 3 was not allowed to speak with any other Scott & White employees on camera but many are in favor of the new policy.

Some workers did say they aren't pleased with the company dictating personal choices.

Scott & White officials tell us only about five percent of its workforce are tobacco users.

Company officials say employees caught violating the new policy could face disciplinary action including possible termination.