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Health news and issues in the Ozarks.

Want a New Job at CoxHealth? You'll Need to Stub Out the Cigarette First


If you want to get a new job at CoxHealth, from now on you'll need to be completely nicotine-free. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann reports.

The new policy will go into effect on November 21 to coincide with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. CoxHealth estimates 17 to 20 percent of its current workforce uses tobacco products.

Steve Edwards is CEO for CoxHealth. He said current employees will not be affected by the new policy because they will be “grandfathered in.” He added that there will be incentives and support for those who wish to quit.

As for all new applicants, they will be required to successfully pass a urine screening to be hired. 

Edwards says the new policy is part of a commitment to the overall health of CoxHealth employees, as well as an opportunity to be a positive example to others.  He said other healthcare networks in Missouri have already made similar policy changes. 

“Our policy, we think, will be a little bit different and is maybe only one in the state that looks like this.  If a person applies for a job and is offered a position, yet fails a screen, we will offer them free smoking cessation programs and an opportunity to reapply in 90 days.  As a matter of fact we will encourage them to reapply in 90 days.  So we want a healthy work force and we want people to get there,” Edwards says. 

Any new employee who is found to be smoking after initially passing the tobacco-free urine test would be subject to losing his or her job.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 45 million American adults are smokers--that's about one in every six adults.