|By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Hospital representatives, who say their primary mission is "living healthier together," say the new rules grew out of two years of researching ways to prevent tobacco-related diseases -- and hearing out those who questioned the policy's fairness and legality. The hospital hopes that health care costs will decrease over the long term, but that was not the primary driver, said
"We're doing this to improve the health status of our community," McGovern said. "It's a serious obligation we have ... and one of the important steps we can take to be a role model."
But others say such policies set a dangerous precedent.
"These things are extremely intrusive," said
"What these folks are saying is they're going to deny a person's livelihood due to the fact that people are consuming a perfectly legal product that does not necessarily adversely affect their health," he said.
About 42.1 million people nationwide -- about 18 percent of the population -- smoke cigarettes, according to a February report from the
Some smokers say employers have no right to regulate employees' health-related choices outside the workplace.
"Everyone has an outlet," she said. "Cigarettes are sold over the counter -- it's not illegal. ... My smoking doesn't interfere with my patients."
"What about obese people, or if you weigh over a certain amount you are going to not be hired?" she said. "Smokers are not bad people."