The MHA employs 45 people, a small number of whom do smoke. They were encouraged to quit and offered help while the new policy was discussed over the past several months. After January 1, the new rule will rely on the honor system for enforcement.
The hospital association policy “goes beyond the idea of corporate wellness to say ‘We are simply going to cleanse the workforce of anyone who has a particular unhealthy behavior." The same reasoning behind the new employment policy could exclude people who eat poorly, skip seat belts, or use tanning salons.
There is a precedent for the ban in Massachusetts. Since 1997, police and fire departments have followed a policy of not hiring smokers that was part of a change in pension rules.