Tuesday, July 28, 2009


According to Kathleen O'Dell's story in the Springfield News-Leader, Cox Hospital is kicking in it's most aggressive anti-smoking policies to date. Here is the breakdown as I understand them:

  • Employees are banned from smoking within 500 feet of all Cox facilities during shifts and lunch breaks. This includes banned smoking on property not owned by Cox.
  • Employees are banned from tobacco use anywhere (on duty or not) when wearing an official hospital badge, uniform, or any other clothing provided by Cox.
  • Employees with who stink of smoke (clothing, hair, etc.) will be may be sent home on their own time to change.
  • The disciplinary action will be progressive but can end in termination.

That is serious policy. In my mind, I cannot see how Cox can dictate to employees what they can do on their own time or when off hospital property. Although public schools utilize similar practices and teachers have lost their jobs for acts done at home or in public. It's basically a professional behavior clause written into the contracts.

I haven't decided how I feel about the "while in uniform" policies. That might be more enforceable as the employees are representing the hospital in some capacity.

I do think the hospital is on solid ground with its odor policy. Odor allergies are becoming very common and some places are starting to ban colognes, perfumes, and other strong smells. Be it body odor, perfume or cigarette smoke, patients should not be forced to pay to endure others' stinky smells. If I were the hospital I would specifically write the policy to include any offensive odors, not just cigarette smoke.

I do believe that people have the right to chose smoking. It's not healthy or smart, but neither is being fat. However, I do not think that smokers have the right to expose the general public to their smoking habits as that second hand and third hand smoke does affect the health of others.

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