Henry Ford Health System: Hypocrisy at its Best; Patients and Employees Health not the Real Priority

By Dave S. Posted October 13, 2012

Policy to Ban E-Cigarettes At WorkA recent article posted on MLive.com reported an announcement made by the Henry Ford Health System and the Beaumont Health System; more than 42, 000 people are employed by these two companies together. According to the report, these companies have announced that they will not be hiring anybody who uses nicotine – both smokers as well as those who use electronic cigarettes though the latter are considered to be smokeless tobacco users.


The article reported that these Health Systems will not be hiring any person who fails their nicotine screening test. The companies also cited that this rule will be put into effect starting from January 1st, 2013. Jay Holden, Vice President of Human Resources at Beaumont Health System, also said that any candidate who fails the test can re-apply after six months. Holden also stated that the companies feel that this is a concrete step that they want to take towards promoting health and wellness in the community which is in fact the very essence of these Health Systems.


The report also stated that this hiring policy is not applicable to the current employees of the two organizations. However no employee will be allowed to smoke or use tobacco in any form during the working hours within the organization. Any employee who is known to violate these anti-smoking policies stand at risk of being disciplined which may even lead to losing one’s job in the company. The report also clearly stated that use of tobacco products does not mean just smoking cigarettes but also use of products like pipe tobacco, cigars, chewing tobacco, use of snuff and even electronic cigarettes.


CEO of Henry Ford Health System, Nancy Schlichting, also stated in the report that the main priority of the two companies is to safeguard the health and wellness of all their employees, patients and visitors. This new anti-tobacco policy is a direct result of this philosophy that the two Health systems share in common.


Though there are a few who question the motive behind this policy, many feel that this will in fact encourage people to quit smoking and use of tobacco products. On the other side, many ask “what happened to our freedom?”. My take on this is that this policy is not going to last a very long time or at least it will not be effective during the time it will last. The reason is simple: the employees need to have freedom over what goes into their body (to an extent). Obviously, drinking alcoholic beverages and drugs are out of the question. But smoking an e-cigarette during lunch break should not be a big issue. It may even reduce worker's productivity. Overall, I believe we should do everything we can to make them stop enforcing policies such as this one, otherwise we will have very little freedom, if any, in our work environment.



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