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Tag: St. Joseph

Feb.
17th

Tobacco use: Too expensive for U.S. health care

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The Franciscan Health System – an empire of hospitals and medical clinics in Pierce and King counties – is about to take the big step from a no-smoking policy to a no-smoker policy.

To a nicotine addict seeking a job at, say, St. Joseph in Tacoma or St. Clare in Lakewood, it will be brutal. Although the rule won’t be applied retroactively to current employees, Franciscan will effectively be hanging out a “smokers need not apply” sign as of March 1.

Franciscan is far from alone. Some other large companies, such as Alaska Airlines, have had no-smoker policies in place for years. But health care organizations in particular have recently been moving to ban smoking – on or off the job – among their employees.

This is less a cause for celebration or criticism than it is a simple inevitability. Like many smokers themselves, America can no longer afford cigarettes.

The U.S. Centers of Disease Control has estimated that tobacco creates a $193 billion-a-year drag on the U.S. economy. It pegged the cost of treating nicotine-driven diseases at roughly $96 billion. Another $97 million resulted from lost productivity – absenteeism, impaired workplace performance, etc.
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