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November 28, 2014

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LEGISLATURE 2013:

Proposed law would let hospitals refuse to hire smokers

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Senator Joe Hardy informs his colleagues of the importance of getting a flu shot during a floor session Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 during the 2013 legislative session in Carson City.

A smoking habit could cost you a job opportunity at a hospital or other medical facility under legislation proposed by Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City.

It’s currently illegal for an employer to discriminate against employees who use a product — such as tobacco — outside of work that does not affect job performance or the safety of other employees. Hardy’s measure, Senate Bill 87, would repeal that law.

“It would appear that this would allow an employer to not hire an employee who smokes or drinks,” the Nevada Taxpayer’s Association said in a recent newsletter.

At a legislative hearing Wednesday, Hardy plans to introduce an amendment that would allow hospitals, nursing homes, hospice, home health and other medical facilities to specifically factor someone’s smoking habit into hiring decisions made after June 30.

Under the amendment, other employers would remain prohibited from basing decisions on an employee’s smoking habit.

“The theory is that when you’re in the hospital, you don’t want someone next to you who is smoking while you’re sick,” said Hardy, who is one of two physicians in the Legislature. (The other is Assemblyman Andy Eisen.) “Patients who smell smoke many times have problems with the reaction to it.”

Renown Health, a Nevada-based health care company, is working with Hardy on the bill. The company wants to factor smoking into its future hiring decisions but does not want any current employee to be fired for smoking, said Fred Hillerby, lobbyist for Renown.

“We just want to be able, if we choose, to not hire smokers,” he said. “We think it’s better for the health of our employees and our patients.”

Smoking cigarettes at home or outside during a break may be the personal choice of an employee, but being exposed to the lingering odor of cigarette smoke clinging to a medical employee’s clothing is not a choice for the sick and injured.

“It is their personal decision,” Hardy said. “It’s also a personal decision to quit smoking or risk some adverse employment activity.”

The comfort of the patient may be a noble idea, but it’s also now tied to payments hospitals receive from the federal government.

Under the Affordable Care Act, how patients score a hospital on such measurements as communication with nurses and doctors, cleanliness and quietness of the hospital environment factor into federal reimbursements paid to hospitals.

Hillerby, however, said “that was not the reason we started down this path.”

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  1. Bull.

  2. If they are going to do this, then do it right. Make every Doctor, Nurse, and employee who currently smoke, give them up or give up their jobs.

    Or don't do it at all.

    It is not right to let current employee's who smoke keep their jobs, while telling those that are seeking a job, you can't work here because you smoke.

    Hardy says that patients don't like the smell of smoke on people near them, but people who do smoke will be standing near them because his Bill does not affect those that currently smoke.

    "Renown Health, a Nevada-based health care company, is working with Hardy on the bill. The company wants to factor smoking into its future hiring decisions but does not want any current employee to be fired for smoking, said Fred Hillerby, lobbyist for Renown."

    Do it right or don't do it at all.

  3. I'm not a smoker, don't really like being around smokers, but once you start this garbage, where does it end?

    Let's don't hire people who have bad breath or body odor. How about people who have smelly feet? Maybe people who are 20 lbs overweight make patients uncomfortable.

    What about male nurses? I'm uncomfortable around male nurses. Only female nurses work for me and they need to be between 18 and 25 years old.

    Where does this end, Joe?

  4. Let's add doctors to the mix. No hospital privileges for smoking or drinking doctors.

    And add one more thing for doctors. Require they wash their hands in between patients they examine. Do it in the patients room so the patient can verify they did it and did it sufficiently to prevent passing on bacteria from one patient to another.

    Man, I have a long list of things I would like to make mandatory for doctors, with the penalty of losing staff privileges at hospitals.

  5. I'd really like to go after doctor's for their fraudulent billing practices. They create huge costs for healthcare. Patients don't know any better and accept the billings as correct. LOL

  6. nanny state Republicans.....oh, the irony!

  7. I don't want anyone that eats pork hired either, it infringes in my religious beliefs.

  8. seems there are far more important things to consider during your very short session. how about working on those?

  9. Ironic, since so many doctors and nurses are fat. They shoud be on notice that they are next.

  10. The headline is very misleading. This bill would repeal a law, not create a new one.

    It appears that potential employers of all types would reserve the right NOT to hire someone due to their outside habits.

    The more laws that are repealed, the better as far as I'm concerned.

  11. About time. Should be appropriate for ALL employers to make intelligent decisions based on probable additional costs. Smoking DOES affect job performance.

  12. ALL nanny-state laws should be repealed.

    That said, employees should be judged based on performance on the job, not on what they do outside the job -- especially where legal activity is concerned.

  13. Good for them. If you can't take care of yourself then how can I trust you to take care of me.

  14. "Good for them. If you can't take care of yourself then how can I trust you to take care of me." <-- slippery slope argument. You can't hire Gods as health care professionals. Or politicians. Or ... anything.

  15. "nanny state Republicans.....oh, the irony!"

    Ha! And just 24 hours ago, there was all this bellyaching about the "nanny state" caused by "liberals."

    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/feb...

    Where's the indictments of the nanny state conservatives?

  16. "Under the Affordable Care Act, how patients score a hospital on such measurements as communication with nurses and doctors, cleanliness and quietness of the hospital environment factor into federal reimbursements paid to hospitals.

    Hillerby, however, said "that was not the reason we started down this path."" - from the column

    Yeah, right.

  17. Not one single Right, as guaranteed by Law is granted without limits. The Catholic Church feels that employers should be allowed to dictate pharmaceuticals and medical care used by their employees but this is a religious conflict. They feel that the Government should not interfere in a person's private or public life, yet the Church exempts itself from the same interference. They even expect a confession.

    Smoking and medical care are health conflicts, clearly secular, and cannot co-exist within a rational framework.

  18. ksand99 (Kevin Sandoval), if you read the article it states this bill would REPEAL an existing law. Repealing laws is the opposite of "nanny state".

  19. "...quit smoking or risk some adverse employment activity."---if this is applied to future hires, it should be applied to current employees.

    To imply that this is not tied to federal reimbursements is to insult the intelligence of us all.

  20. When I worked in HR, we had a form that included "Do you smoke"? If the person checked the box, or left it blank, they were not hired. We didn't ask about tats, but if they had tats showing, no job. In this rotten economy, beggars can't be choosers. It's up to you, kids.

  21. TomDI1228..I'm confused.

    What would you call someone who repeats the same mantra...

    "Illegal is illegal."
    -TomD1228 (1/10/13)

    "Illegal is illegal....The law is the law. Obey or pay the price"

    --TomD1228 (09/24/12)

    Yet tells us, "when I worked in HR, we had a form that included "Do you smoke"? If the person checked the box, or left it blank, they were not hired" despite the fact NRS 613.333 states:

    "It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to:
    (a) Fail or refuse to hire a prospective employee...because the employee engages in the lawful use in this state of any product outside the premises of the employer during the employee's nonworking hours."?

    Personally I find that the best word to call "a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings" is Hypocrite.

    And, wouldn't you know it, Merriam-Webster agrees.

  22. Whether you are for or against smoking, this is very discriminatory. What next? No one hired with a body mass index of over 25? Or if you wear bifocals? Or you have gray hair? Please. This is a little too extreme. Don't they realize how many health care workers, including doctors, smoke? Check out the outskirts of a hospital parking lot or doctor's office. You'll get your answer.

    @Roselenda: Please explain HOW does smoking affect job performance? Being disgustingly fat is more of a hindrance to doing your job, any job. And there are a lot of fat health care workers. When their belly is hitting you in the face while they are taking your temperature, that's bad.

    What I find more repulisve in a hospital or doctor's office or even in my own job of senior care, people that are so obese they can barely move and are breathing heavy just by putting a blood pressure cuff on your arm. In my job, I see women from our help agency that are so fat - I wonder how in the hell do they even do the laundry or clean a toilet? How do they FIT in a small bathroom? I'm no skinny minny but at least I can carry whatever up a flight of stairs, move small furniture, vacuum and bend over without breathing like I just ran a marathon.

  23. ""When I worked in HR, we had a form that included "Do you smoke"? If the person checked the box, or left it blank, they were not hired""

    Oh Doogie Doogie. Like people were going to check the "Do You Smoke" box or leave it blank. Get real. As far as I know, nicotine is not part of a drug test and even if it was - many people are using nicotine gum or those electric cigarettes. So you cannot hire someone because they have nicotine in their system. But I guess those taking legal pain killers and antidepressants are better to hire.

  24. Munch: smoking affects the smokers job performance and mine. I have lung issues and if you're hacking and coughing, I'm moving away from you even if our jobs mean we're supposed to interact and communicate.

  25. I get the irony, Posters. We're going to re-regulate the over regulated so that Illegals can have more jobs in Nevada. More than 12% now. Gee what would enforcing our immigration laws do to the unemployment rate? I understand that SOME of the jobs illegals are stealing are not your ideal dream job--but you gotta start somewhere. And how about those cut off from welfare that finally NEED to work? Maybe some of them could work in ethnic restaurants.