July 22, 2011
CTMC Committed to Health of Employees With New "Non-Tobacco Use" Plan
SAN MARCOS, TX – Central Texas Medical Center’s (CTMC) commitment to improving the well-being of its employees will be furthered beginning Sept. 1, 2011 by only hiring non-tobacco users, and beginning January 1, 2012, existing employees who chose to continue smoking and/or using tobacco will not be eligible for the tobacco-free discount for their health insurance.
”As a healthcare institution, we are making changes that are in the best interest of improving the health and wellness of our patients, our associates and our overall community,” said Sam Huenergardt, president and CEO. “We are dedicated to being leaders toward building a healthier workforce and community.”
Over the years, CTMC has demonstrated its commitment to promoting healthier lifestyles, including offering healthy and fresh food in its Café, Institute for Healthy Living’s offering of free health education classes and screenings and the Community Walking Trail that wraps around the hospital’s Wonder World Drive campus. In 2008, CTMC became an entirely smoke-free campus.
Why target smoking and tobacco use?
• Smoking still remains a leading cause of preventable deaths in America today.
• Second-hand smoke continues to contribute to death and illness in non-tobacco users as well.
• According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths worldwide per year. Current trends show that number will increase to 8 million deaths annually by 2030.
• In the United States, tobacco use is responsible for one in five deaths a year.
• Cigarette smoking is estimated to be responsible for $193 billion in annual health-related economic losses in the United States.
In addition, experience has also shown that tobacco use makes every disease process worse. Diabetes, hypertension, and the overall healing processes are all compromised by tobacco use.
Is it Fair to Single Out Tobacco Users?
Given the current national debate on spiraling health care costs for companies, more and more companies are saying yes. Nationally, such companies as Macy’s, PepsiCo and Gannett Media currently require that their employees who smoke pay a higher insurance premium than non-smoking/tobacco using employees. Locally, in addition to CTMC, several companies including McCoy’s, CenturyLink, C-Fan, Phillips Wide Light, and Gary Job Corp have gone to smoke-free campuses. All of the hospitals in the region are smoke-free and effective August 1, 2011 Texas State University will become an entirely smoke-free campus.
Nationally, Union Pacific, Scott’s Miracle Grow and the Cleveland Clinic are among large employers that have already gone to hiring non-tobacco users altogether.
CTMC’s decision to no longer hire tobacco users coincides with a debate currently underway in the City of San Marcos. This past Monday evening more than 100 local residents, students and representatives from the local business community participated in an Open House conducted by the City to voice their opinion for or against placing a city-wide smoking ban on the ballot. A second Open House took place last night at the Texas Music Theatre in San Marcos.
While CTMC clearly believes in living a healthy existence though proper nutrition and healthy activity, they also recognize that smoking is a choice. As such, we have supported the City Council giving the citizens of San Marcos a choice in the debate. We propose that this important item needs to go on a ballot for the voters to decide.
The non-tobacco use plan is just one part of CTMC’s growing commitment to improving the well-being of our employees. Earlier this year, many associates chose to participate in certain screenings and educational events throughout the year to improve their health. Those participating in the new plan received a discount on their monthly insurance premium. Next year, existing employees who choose to continue smoking and/or using tobacco will be required to pay a higher premium for their CTMC-provided health insurance. CTMC is also exploring other health indicators like total Cholesterol, Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI) as other possible areas to reward associates who commit to demonstrating healthy habits through these key indicators.