I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy smoking a pipe or a cigar on rare occasions. I think it surprises many people when I confess to enjoying a high-quality stogie after my cross country or track season ends. The majority of runners typically don’t indulge in smoking, and I wouldn’t recommend it more than a few times a year if you want to be successful or breathe during workouts. Smokers usually fall into one of two categories: 1. The heavy smoker who invests a large portion of their income into smoking or 2. The smoker who on rare occasions enjoys a tobacco product. I would consider myself part of the second group.
If you find yourself in the first group, you may want to rethink your smoking habits as they could limit you from being hired by certain companies after graduation. Geisinger Medical Center, which is ranked among the top 100 hospitals in the country according to the American Nurses Credentialing Center, banned smoking on all of its properties in 2007 in an attempt to promote health awareness throughout all of its campuses. They also have refused to hire any potential employees if they test positive for nicotine.
You may cry “foul” when hearing of Geisinger Medical Center’s attempt to limit the rights of employees to enjoy a tobacco product occasionally, but I applaud them for their efforts to promote health among their current and potential employees. I have no sympathy for someone not getting a job because of an unhealthy habit such as smoking. If you’re allowing yourself to become dependent on your daily smoke breaks to relieve your stress, not getting a job is the least of your worries as you’ll probably die from lung cancer eventually. I apologize if that sounds harsh, but many of my friends in high school had relatives or acquaintances who died from lung cancer. Having seen the pain they went through, I would never want anyone to have to experience that type of death or lose a relative to it.
Speaking as someone who doesn’t rely too heavily on smoking to solve my problems or relieve my stress every day, I confess to being angered by habitual smokers in the workplace. In both of the jobs I held prior to beginning college, smokers frequently took their “smoke breaks” while I was obligated to cover their position until they finished their cigarette. Besides the amount of time these employees wasted, it gave the business the negative image of supporting unhealthy habits.
Companies aren’t legally or morally obligated to cater to the various addictions their employees have. I would even argue that any company that allows their employees to take frequent smoking breaks during shifts doesn’t care about their employees’ health or the image that it gives the company. Although businesses are most often motivated by money, a healthy public image of their workers is closely tied to this. If a business is openly promoting a healthy lifestyle among its employees, this will be viewed positively and cause the way consumers view the company to change for the better.
There’s a quote in Spiderman (hopefully the upcoming remake is stellar) that Uncle Ben says to Peter Parker. He says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I’m quite aware that quote has been referenced by many people, but there’s some solid truth to be found in it. Geisinger Medical Center is in a position of great power; it has many high-quality jobs to offer people in a time when the economy is currently pulling out of a recession. The Medical Center has stated that it will offer potential employees the chance to re-apply for the job if they are proven to be nicotine-free for five months. If it utilizes this power responsibly, it could be the factor that causes people to quit smoking and get a great paying job. It’s a win-win for potential employees willing to quit their addiction. They’re healthy, and they get a job.
Although their actions may not be received positively, Geisinger Medical Center is steadfastly holding to their principles of promoting a healthy lifestyle both inside and outside the workplace. Not only would I be proud to call them my employers, but I would wholeheartedly support their decision to not hire employees who blatantly go against everything they stand for. Just when you think every company out in the working world is only concerned with making money, Geisinger Medical Center stands out as an organization dedicated to promoting health among its employees and society as whole.