Senate: Smokers can't be denied medical jobs

News-DemocratApril 25, 2013 

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A metro-east lawmaker's bill that would have allowed some medical facilities to turn away job applicants because they smoke failed Thursday in the Illinois Senate.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, would have given medical facilities that are involved in treating cancer patients the right to not hire job applicants who use tobacco. The bill would have amended the state's Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act and shielded such medical facilities from discrimination lawsuits for refusing to hire tobacco users.

The bill also would have allowed such facilities to fire any future employees who begin using tobacco.

Luechtefeld, who has twice had cancer, said cancer patients are "extremely sensitive to any kind of smoke, on clothes." He said even though hospitals ban smoking on their premises, some hospital employees leave the grounds to smoke during breaks or lunches, then return to work.

Luechtefeld said 22 other states have similar laws, some of which are "much more restrictive than this particular bill is."

Some senators told Luechtefeld they had been expecting him to file an amendment to the bill, to make it agreeable to any interested parties.

Outside the Senate, Luechtefeld said employee unions have had some opposition to the bill.

The bill is SB 2312.

Luechtefeld said a similar bill won passage during a previous session of the legislature, but was vetoed by the governor.

How metro-east senators voted:

Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville: No

Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton: No

Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville: Yes

Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon: Didn't vote

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