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UPMC forbidding smoking by employees and volunteers

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UPMC in Pittsburgh officially started a no-smoking policy that affects all employees and volunteers while they are working. Employees no longer may smoke during working hours - even on breaks - and should not appear at work while smelling of smoke.

Management has been careful to point out that this does not affect workers when off the clock, however the policy does make it difficult to figure out exactly when employees could smoke.

From the UPMC press release on the policy:

UPMC is not asking employees to quit smoking, only to comply with the new policy.

“We’re committed to maintaining a healthy environment for employees, patients and our visitors,” said Greg Peaslee, UPMC executive vice president and chief human resources and administrative services officer. “By reducing exposure to tobacco products, we can help the UPMC experience to be a positive one.”

Tobacco use currently is not permitted on any UPMC property, and starting July 1, the policy will be extended to prohibit tobacco use for the entire work shift or assignment, including paid and unpaid breaks. Individuals also cannot smell of smoke during work.

“The health risks of smoking are well-documented,” said Marc Manley, M.D., vice president of population health management, UPMC Health Plan. “There also is evidence of danger from second-hand smoke, and even ‘third-hand’ smoke. Residue from tobacco smoke can cling to skin, hair and clothing long after someone has finished smoking, and can be an irritant to others.”

While this policy is being met with mixed feelings among the public, employees have been aware of it being on the horizon for them for months. The underlying logic is sound, as UPMC is attempting to have employees lead patients by example with healthier habits. Because it is a healthcare facility, employees that wish to quit smoking are able to receive assistance at work.

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