Recently, UPHS announced that, effective July 1, 2013, we willcease hiring tobacco users in our efforts to improve the overall health of our workforcewhile reducing health-care benefit costs. The response we’ve gotten from employees and from our community has beenvery positive. For current employees,UPHS will continue to provide free smoking cessation counseling and nicotinereplacement therapy to support our staff and their families in eliminating theuse of tobacco products.
We know that employees might have questions about how this newpolicy affects them. Below are someFrequently Asked Questions (FAQ). For a larger listof FAQ -- which includes additional details on how this policy affects thoseapplying for positions at UPHS -- visit http://www.pennmedicine.org/careers/working-at-penn-medicine/tobacco-free.html .
If you haveadditional questions that are not included in the FAQ below or online, emailthem to HR@uphs.upenn.edu.
HowDoes the Tobacco Free Policy Affect Current Employees?
Will the Tobacco Free Hiring policy impactcurrent UPHS employees?
No. Currentemployees will be grandfathered --- but employees who are tobacco users canexpect to pay a higher premium on their health-care benefit if they are notactively enrolled in a smoking cessation program or nicotine replacementtherapy.
Who does thispolicy apply to?
This policyapplies to all UPHS employees, inclusive of physicians employed by the HealthSystem, who begin employment on or after July 1, 2013. Due to the lengthy recruitment cycle offellows and residents, the effective date for this policy is July 1, 2014, providinga full year notification to applicants. This policy does not apply to faculty and staff employed by theUniversity or UPHS employees working exclusively in New Jersey.
Why the focuson tobacco users?
The healthrisks and related costs associated with tobacco use have caused UPHS tomobilize action for moving toward a tobacco free future by focusing on thehealth of its workforce while containing the escalating costs associated withtobacco use. The Center for DiseaseControl (CDC) provides evidence that smoking or second-hand smoke exposurecontributes to 443,000 premature deaths annually and results in $193 billion inhealth-care costs and lost productivity.
Is theredocumented evidence that ‘banning the hiring of tobacco users’ reduces overallhealth care costs?
Nolongitudinal study provides demonstrable evidence that employers who ceasehiring tobacco users reduce overall health-care costs. This is largely due to the fact, that thistype of employment practice has only been initiated in the past few years. One of the first to introduce the ‘tobaccofree hiring’ policy was the Cleveland Clinic in 2007; the practice hascontributed to an overall reduction in smoking rates in Cuyahoga County. Many others have followed since then,including Geisinger Health Care System, St. Luke’s, Baylor Health Care System,Humana, Massachusetts Hospital Association and many others throughout thecountry.
Inherent inthe mission of health-care organizations is healing the sick and cultivatinghealthier communities. So it does makesense that health-care organizations would be the first employers to movetoward a tobacco free future — ending a habit that leads to disease, disabilityand premature death.
If a currentemployee terminates employment with UPHS and then re-applies, will they besubject to the new policy?
Will physicians be subject to the tobacco free hiringpolicy?
All physicians who are employed by UPHS are subject tothis policy — including residents, fellows and most CCA physicians. Faculty and staff who are employed by the University are not subject to thispolicy. Due to therecruitment cycle of residents and fellows the effective date for policyimplementation for this group of employees is July 1, 2014.
Will residents of communities who have higher smokingrates be adversely impacted by this policy?
Even surrounding communities that have a relatively highusage of tobacco products have far more non-tobacco users than tobaccousers. We also are continuing our efforts to increaseeducation on the impact of tobacco use in those communities with higher usagerates. The implementation of this policydoes not adversely impact our recruitment efforts.
We are committed to enforcing this policy while ensuringthat our hiring rate in these communities does not decrease.
What futurebans will UPHS consider next?
TheUniversity of Pennsylvania Health System is committed to a safe and healthywork environment and to promoting the health and wellbeing of its employees.Other than requiring future applicants to attest to not being a tobacco user,there are no specific plans to restrict employment for other conditions.