Nicotine users beware!

Picked up from #Octabber on Farcebok, who linked via Audrey Silk.

 A hospital in America will not hire ‘nicotine users’.

I didn’t say ‘smokers’, and neither did they. They will not hire anyone who uses patches, gum, Electrofag or anything else containing nicotine and they will drug-test anyone who applies.

In a wonderfully insane form of logic, they will offer anyone who tests positive for nicotine a 90-day course of (ahem) patches and/or gum and test them again at the end of 90 days. At which point, if they have followed the hospital’s instruction and kept on the course, they are certain to test positive again.

Presumably tomatoes are off the menu in that hospital?

Current hospital employees have been eligible for the free smoking cessation products for the past two years, according to Simmons, with voluntary nicotine testing.

Why would anyone want to volunteer for a nicotine test? I wouldn’t. I smoke, so I’m not going to volunteer for a test where I can predict the result. Why would a non-smoker volunteer? If they love their potato salad with tomato and eggplant, they’ll fail too. I suppose that result would ‘prove passive smoking’ though.

Naturally, as with all the measures imposed by the Righteous, it didn’t stay voluntary for long.

“Last year, we made the nicotine testing mandatory if you had our insurance. If you tested positive, we again offered cessation products,” she said. “This year, if you decided you didn’t want to quit, then a smoking surcharge was added biweekly for any associate covered under our insurance.”

Oh but she insists it’s not punitive. She really wants to help people.

Even if perfectly legal, the hospital’s goal of controlling the behavior of employees at home and outside the workplace is troubling to some, including Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4. While he acknowledges the right of the hospital to ban nicotine use on its own property, he bristles at the notion of a company controlling the behavior of individuals once they leave the hospital campus.

“This breaches a firewall that is very dangerous. If we can prevent people from working because they smoke, there is nothing to stop them from preventing them from working because they are obese or because they drink alcohol,” Rothschild said. “Where do you draw the line?”

There is no line. There is no end to it. The head of a hospital believes that nicotine is a carcinogen and these are the people who are looking after your health. Soon you will have to provide a blood sample every time you arrive for work and it will be tested for every non-approved thing they can think of. Fail on one of them and it’s instant dismissal. Even if it’s something they added that very morning and you don’t know it’s banned yet.

The only real weapon left is the vote. These people are not interested in discussion or logic or reason. You can throw as much of that at them as you like, it all just bounces off. Vote out the current politicians, vote in a new party. Any party, doesn’t matter which. They don’t even have to win – just get far enough to put the shits up our current lot.

The only thing our politicians will listen to is the threat of losing their gravy train. Threaten them with it. Then they might – just might – get the message, and shut down the idiot brigade they have allowed to run the show for too long. If they don’t, well, keep hammering away at every election until they either get the message or get their P45s.

In the meantime, Carroll County is a place best avoided. If you get sick there, the hospital is run by idiots.



19 thoughts on “Nicotine users beware!

  1. I just love the sanctimonious and self righteous. My Nan used to say that the worst thing you could say about someone is “they mean well” I tend to take the same stance the well intentioned are usually sanctimonious and self righteous, and 99% of the time they believe they know best for everyone because they are perfect. NOT.


  2. If I’m lucky, at 55 (5 more years) I should have a pension that might pay out about 20K per year……That’ll do it…

    Then it’s fuck the lot of them….


  3. I wonder how long it will take before all these employers who proudly boast that they won’t employ smokers (or “nicotine users” or whatever else they choose to call them), start to go bust. In my long working life, I’ve come to realise that by and large smokers make the best employees – they’re more focused, more imaginative, more efficient, work longer hours, take shorter breaks (yes, even including a trip to the smoking area), are better team workers, have better interpersonal skills, are better colleagues and establish much better customer relations, than their non-smoking counterparts. There’s always exceptions, of course, in both directions, but as a general rule of thumb it’s pretty reliable. And employers who employ the people who are best suited to the job, rather than ones which conform to some politically-correct “ideal” employee, make the best employers, too. Which is kind of nice, really, because it means that the best employees (the smokers) will end up working with the best employers. It isn’t rocket science, after all, is it? As increasing numbers of employers start ruling out the best people for all the wrong reasons, what exactly do they think they are going to end up with? A half-hearted, inefficient, socially-inept, stressed-out and irritable workforce who, at best, just about get the job done “adequately.” And in today’s working environment, “adequate” just isn’t good enough.

    It won’t be immediately obvious, of course, because this kind of prejudice is the slow, creeping type, unlike the lightning-strike which was the smoking ban, but over time I’d bet my bottom dollar that the companies who fail to weather the ups and downs of the business world will be the ones who rigorously adhere to daft idealistic policies like this one. Not that any of the blindly-led companies who initiated their own downfall will understand this for a second. Like so many publicans who embraced the smoking ban, it’s too great an intellectual leap and takes too much courage to look back and see where they went wrong, admit that they backed the wrong horse and begin to make amends. And so it’ll be with all these anti-smoking companies and corporations. I foresee many an erstwhile Managing Director or CEO sitting at home, wringing his hands, and mumbling to himself “Where on earth did we go so wrong … ?” We could tell them, of course, but why bother? They will have brought it on themselves and, to be perfectly frank, the business world is probably better off without them.


    • Way back when most people smoked, we had a lot of industry in this country.

      Now it seems most people are employed to nag other people, while producing nothing at all.

      Maybe the collapse of a few antismoking companies will make at least a few wonder if there’s any connection.


    • Ahh, but these you see are Americans. Try looking through a catalogue that deals with HPLC consumables and spare parts (Anachem in Luton, say) and you’ll see that they have quite a big section devoted to vac-elut cartridges. What these are, are disposable gadgets that selectively pull one class of chemical out of a solution and hang onto it, until you elute it out of them with a stronger solvent.

      So, for nicotine (actually cotinine, the metabolite) you set these cartridges up on a special vacuum stand and first run a few ml of the strong solvent mix through them to wet the packing material. Then you run a lot more of the conditioning mix through to remove the wetting solvent, then fill them with the sample and pull that through. Next, another load of the conditioning mix to wash off impurities. You now have all the stuff you’re looking for adsorbed onto the packing material, and all the crap that might otherwise interfere with the HPLC safely washed away.

      Finally you use a quantity of the strong solvent to wash the required chemical you’re looking for (if present) off the cartridge, dry it down to a dry sample then re-dissolve with a much smaller quantity of solvent.

      You start with a sample of, say, 50 ml and end up with a cleaned sample of 0.25 ml ready to be put through a chromatograph. That’s a 200-fold concentration step just there, and it gets rid of a lot of crap that might otherwise block the HPLC inlet filters (assuming urine is the original sample).

      Look now in the chemicals catalogue, and you’ll find a whole host of different vac-elut cartridges for sale, many of them specifically designed for use with robot handlers. Drug testing employees’ urine is big business in the USA, and I rather think that extending this to nicotine use is not driven by any nannying tendency per se, but rather by the drug testing companies’ discovery of yet another substance that could be tested for, and therefore really should be tested for (for the good of the testing companies’ profits).

      Testing for cotinine isn’t difficult. I know this because a good many years ago, I worked a short contract for a big chemicals company in Harrogate who were setting up that very process. Working out how much cotinine is in a sample accurately is a good deal harder to do and involves radiolabelled cotinine, but can be done. In a non-smoker, you’d expect about 10-30 picogrammes of cotinine per ml of original sample. In a smoker, 100 to 300 picogrammes. In someone who doesn’t smoke but is closely associated with smokers, the values are only just barely distinguishable from a non-smoker. Secondhand smoke is a complete myth, if you use cotinine levels as a proxy for exposure to tobacco smoke.

      One thing was also very clear: everyone has some cotinine in their blood, from exposure to nicotine in tomatoes, potatoes and the like. If the test is sensitive enough to pick up on all cotinine, it will find this and provide numerous false positives; these will lead to lawsuits and assorted legal arse-kickings. I would therefore guess that the testing company would only be throwing out a positive hit for cotinine at levels over 150 or 200 picogrammes per ml of sample.


  4. If I understand things correctly. negroes have a lower life expectancy than white people. It is therefore reasonable to use this fact to assist in making hiring decisions.

    On a brighter note, I shamelessly used an ecig on BA, Emirates and Qantas business class flights to Sydney and back with no admonition. I didn’t blow smoke rings (not that I can) and pointedly chewed on a black pen to confuse any Stasi.The Emirates lounge in Dubai has a cigar room where smoking and drinking is encouraged. At 0400 local time, they were still adding Dom Benedictine to my coffees as I attempted to sober up. Highly recommended.

    Flying into Heathrow, the customs chap asked if I had any tobacco. “About thirty packs”, I slurred (forgetting my cigars). He waved me through, and restored some of my faith in mankind. Customs Man, I hope you win the lottery.


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