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Only Non-Smokers Need Apply At Baylor

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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Currently there are some 14 million jobless Americans. And if you’re one of the thousands of North Texans looking for work, the competition is tough.

Now, a new hiring limitation by one employer could make the job search even harder.

The Baylor Health Care System has decided that if you use tobacco, in any form, you won’t get a job with them.

“I don’t like it,” said Cassie Grooms. “I don’t think it’s fair.”

Smokers like Grooms were quick to condemn Baylor’s new policy that basically conveys: if you use nicotine, there’s no need to apply.

“We all have the right to smoke a cigarette,” Grooms said in disagreement. “I can understand not [smoking] on their property, but to not hire somebody for smoking…”

Baylor officials claim smoking has a lot to do with the high cost of health care. The FDA estimates smoking costs American employers some $200 billion a year in lost productivity and increased medical costs.

“It’s about how we continue to deal with the rising health care costs,” said Baylor CEO Joel Allison. “It’s about how do we really focus on the new model of health care around prevention and well, and how do we keep people healthy. And I think that’s very, very important for us as a city, a state and a nation.”

Smoking was banned at all Baylor campuses four years ago. But, can they legally refuse to hire smokers?

“Absolutely they can,” said Dallas employment attorney Thomas Brandt. “People think well, that’s discriminatory, but really there are only certain factors that you cannot consider when making hiring decisions.”

Things like race, gender, ethnicity or national origin cannot be considered when hiring an employee.

If increased medical costs are a consideration for banning employee tobacco use, then ponder this: obesity is also a national health crisis. According to the CDC obesity costs employers some $147 billion a year.

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