MD Anderson will no longer hire smokers starting next year

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has announced it will adopt a tobacco-free hiring policy beginning, Jan. 1, 2015.

According to the organization, moving forward, all MD Anderson applicants will be screened for tobacco use as part of the standard application process. If you use tobacco in any form, you will not be hired. However, you can kick the habit and then re-apply for the job. Current employees who already use tobacco will be grandfathered in.

MD Anderson is not treading on new ground. Memorial Hermann Hospital instituted a similar policy in 2010 and Methodist Hospital Systems took the step just last year.

"As an institution with the mission of ending cancer, we felt those who wish to work at MD Anderson must be willing to make a personal commitment to help reduce cancer rates," said Shibu Varghese, vice president of Human Resources. "Because secondhand smoke also has been linked to cancer, it's also a commitment on behalf of our employees to the entire community."

MD Anderson says it currently has a Tobacco Treatment Program that provides tobacco-cessation services to patients, employees and their families at no cost to help offer an alternative to tobacco use. The program is funded by Tobacco Settlement Funds, and includes in-person behavioral counseling and several tobacco-cessation medication treatments.
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