Albany -- If you use tobacco you are no longer eligible for employment at Phoebe Putney Hospital. The hospital says they fight smoking because of it's health dangers, and they would feel hypocritical if they hired tobacco users.
Phoebe Putney Hospital is the first employer in South Georgia to prohibit tobacco. Human Resources Vice President David Baranski said "for a health care organization to hire smoking or tobacco users, sends a message that we condone tobacco. And tobacco is the single largest source of disease in the entire United States."
The change won't affect current employees, but will extend to future hires. All the hospital's campus in 14 counties are tobacco free. The hospital also gives non tobacco using employees ten percent reductions in their health insurance premiums.
While Phoebe's braced for controversy, they say it's important they make this stance. Baranski said "it's about choices in their personal life. They choose to smoke or use tobacco, or they choose to work at Phoebe or not to work at Phoebe."
Because doctors say tobacco use is the single biggest health problem in South Georgia.
Baranski says so far they have had no one applying for a job challenge the no tobacco ban, but said some people applying for jobs said they would quit smoking, and then re-apply.