Clinic to stop hiring smokers

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Nursing students looking for a job after graduation may have to look beyond the Cleveland Clinic – if they smoke.

As of Sept. 1, Ohio’s second largest employer will no longer hire smokers.

All applicants will be tested for nicotine, and the Clinic will offer free smoking cessation programs to prospective employees who smoke.

Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic, said smokers will be encouraged to re-apply after quitting.

“We have decided to get as many toxins as we can out of our environment,” he said.

Once the policy is implemented, employees will not be tested again, Roizen said. The policy will not affect current employees, but they are also encouraged to quit smoking.

Yvonne Smith, assistant dean of the College of Nursing at Kent State, said the Cleveland Clinic is one place nursing students go for clinical experience. Students who work there are expected to comply with the policies of the institution.

Smith said she hopes students who smoke might see it as an opportunity to quit.

“There are nurses who smoke,” she said. “It’s an addictive behavior.”

But, she said the College of Nursing would not “police students” by requiring them to quit smoking.

Nursing instructor Theresa Hahn oversees students at the Cleveland Clinic.

She said she hopes the policy will not affect students because they should be “living a healthy lifestyle,” and she thinks the new policy is a good idea.

Senior nursing major Steven Samaco agreed.

“It’s a good idea for them to set an example and hopefully start a trend,” he said.

Samaco said the policy is a “bold step” on the Clinic’s part because while smoking is legal, it’s up to the Clinic to decide it doesn’t want smokers on the payroll.

“It’s a condition of employment,” he said. “You don’t like it, go work somewhere else.”

Samaco also mentioned it’s difficult to hire nurses because there’s a nursing shortage.

“It eliminates more potential candidates, and that makes it an even bolder step,” he said.

Senior nursing major Nick DiMauro said he sees the policy as a problem. He said it’s unfair for the Clinic to target people for an unhealthy behavior. He mentioned obesity as another example.

“We tend to think of obesity as a disease but addiction as a weakness,” DiMauro said.

He said he accepts the idea of hospitals banning smoking on their grounds, but the Clinic has gone too far.

Smoking, he said, is “something (employees) do in their personal life that doesn’t affect their nursing care.”

Senior nursing major Laura Denczak said she sees nurses come out of smoking breaks and use body spray to cover up the smell of smoke.

She said nurses see first-hand the ill effects of smoking.

“Every single one of them that I know of is trying to quit,” she said.

Contact principal reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].