Readers have strong opinions about WellSpan Health's announcement this week that, starting Jan. 1, it will no longer hire smokers.

We asked Facebook readers: What do you think about WellSpan's decision not to hire smokers?

Reactions were mixed, but passionate.

Commenters raised the concern that policies like this that target one unhealthy habit can quickly slide down a slippery slope.

"It tends to lead into stickier subjects such as obesity and social drinking," wrote Meghan Wagner of Wrightsville.

She and others did not like the idea of that level of intrusion into employees' private lives.

But that idea isn't so repugnant to everybody.

"I understand their reasoning, but then they need to do it for any behavior that is unhealthy," wrote Adams County's Rae Ann Wileman. "For example, it really irritates me when a doctor tells me I need to lose weight when they need to lose more than me."

Either way, these worries were thoroughly discussed within WellSpan before the company decided to go through with the hiring policy, WellSpan spokesman Brett Marcy said. He said people within the company had already raised the concerns about future policies restricting what employees do in their private lives.

"WellSpan has no plans of going down that path in regard to hiring," Marcy said.


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He said it's important for health care professionals to set a good example in the community, especially in one like York County that has a higher rate of smokers than the national average.

"We felt that it was incumbent on us to extend what was already a pretty extensive journey to try to reduce the harmful impact of tobacco in our communities," Marcy said.

And some Yorkers agreed.

"Honestly I never understood the hypocrisy of someone who is supposed to be making people healthy making themselves unhealthy," wrote Albert Orkenbjorken of York City.

York's Tammy McCaa said she approved of the policy because she wants to avoid the dangers of secondhand and thirdhand smoke.

"It is a medical facility nobody should be getting third hand smoke when being treated, especially infants," she said.

But Marcy said there had been no such issues at WellSpan, which banned smoking from its campuses in 2006.

"No, no, it had nothing to do with secondhand smoke," he said.

Commenter Stefan May said WellSpan is only doing this to avoid paying more down the road to employees whose health may suffer from smoking.

Marcy said that though WellSpan does offer a range of incentive programs aimed at improving employee health, and some of those have to do with insurance, this does not.

"This doesn't have anything to do with insurance," Marcy said.

For Dover's Keith Fulton, it comes down simply to making sure the best people for the job of keeping the community healthy aren't left out.

"I want the best doctors whether they smoke or not."

-- Reach Sean Philip Cotter at scotter@yorkdispatch.com.