Should health organizations add a 'tobacco filter' to their recruitment policies?

By Jenny Lei Ravelo 11 August 2015

The United Nations public health arm won’t hire applicants who smoke or tobacco users who don't indicate a willingness to stop smoking. As anti-tobacco campaigns continue to proliferate worldwide, will more public health organizations follow suit? Photo by: Roo Reynolds / CC BY-NC 

Each year, an estimated 5.4 million people die from tobacco usage. This could increase to up to 8 million if current trends continue, according to the World Health Organization.

This is why WHO, among other health groups, is boosting its efforts to raise awareness of the health risks associated with tobacco, as well as pushing governments to take measures aimed at discouraging its continued use.

These efforts aren’t solely focused externally. A number of health organizations, particularly those engaged in tobacco control activities, have extended their campaigns internally by adopting policies to ensure a smoke-free work premises and offering smoking cessation programs to employees.

WHO has even adopted a hard-line policy — the United Nations public health arm won’t hire applicants who smoke or “other tobacco users who do not indicate a willingness to stop smoking,” according to language in its no tobacco recruitment policy.

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About the author

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Jenny Lei Ravelo@JennyLeiRavelo

Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex senior reporter based in Manila. Since 2011, she has covered a wide range of development and humanitarian aid issues, from leadership and policy changes at DfID to the logistical and security impediments faced by international and local aid responders in disaster-prone and conflict-affected countries in Africa and Asia. Her interests include global health and the analysis of aid challenges and trends in sub-Saharan Africa.

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