By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor

A hospital in Cape Girardeau, Missouri will no longer hire smokers who fail a drug test for nicotine as part of a pre-employment background screening program beginning January 1, 2011, according to a story in the Southeast Missourian newspaper. The new tobacco-free hiring policy – which will not affect current employees – will drug test job applicants for nicotine as part of the hospital’s pre-employment background screening program.

On the “Current Openings” page of the Saint Francis Medical Center website at, the following message appears under the heading ‘Nicotine-free hiring policy’ for prospective job candidates:

Because it is important for healthcare providers to promote a healthy environment and lifestyle, effective January 1, 2011, Saint Francis Medical Center has a nicotine-free hiring policy. Applicants will be tested for nicotine as part of a pre-employment screening.

I understand that my application will not be considered if I use tobacco products.

Although Missouri labor law mandates employers cannot refuse to hire and cannot fire an employee for alcohol or tobacco use after working hours off company property, church-related organizations and not-for-profit hospitals – like the Saint Francis Medical Center – are exempt from the code, the Southeast Missourian reported.
The hospital’s tobacco-free stance comes at a time when more private-sector employers in the U.S. are prohibiting smoking in their hiring policies. One reason is that employees who smoke can cost their companies $12,000 a year unnecessarily, according to statistics cited by anti-smoking and nonsmoker rights advocates in the story.
Nicotine drug tests used during background screening have been challenged in court, the Southeast Missourian reports, but a federal court in Massachusetts ruled public policy favored a smoke-free society over the right of individuals to smoke on their own time.

For more information on pre-employment background screening, visit the Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Services page or the ESR website at

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about Employment Screening Resources, visit or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations and Business Development, at 415.898.0044 or [email protected].