MD Anderson Cancer Center is expanding its efforts to combat lung cancer and other diseases. And an important piece of this initiative will take place within the institution’s own walls.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, MD Anderson will adopt a tobacco-free hiring policy. From then on, all applicants and recruits offered employment at MD Anderson will be screened for tobacco use as part of the standard application process. Those who test positive for tobacco use won’t be eligible for hire. However, they may reapply after 180 days.
MD Anderson’s tobacco-free hiring policy is part of its larger EndTobacco program, which is targeting the smoking and tobacco epidemic that will kill more than 480,000 people in the United States this year, and is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the nation, as well as 30% of cancer cases.
“If we want to make a serious impact on smoking and tobacco use, we must lead by example by creating a healthy environment internally for patients, visitors, faculty and staff,” said Ernest Hawk, M.D., M.P.H., vice president and head of MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences division.
EndTobacco was developed under the cancer prevention and control platform of the Moon Shots Program, an effort to dramatically accelerate the pace of converting scientific discoveries into clinical and population-oriented advances that significantly reduce cancer deaths. The platform is focused on preventing and reducing cancer through screening, early detection and survivorship.
A tobacco-focused agenda
Over the years, MD Anderson has worked toward tobacco control through research, clinical trials, collaborations and cessation services. In 1989, the institution became a smoke-free campus, and five years later became one of the few U.S. academic medical institutions to adopt a policy prohibiting the receipt of tobacco money for research funding.
MD Anderson’s Tobacco Treatment Program provides cessation services to patients, employees and their families at no cost. The program, supported by Tobacco Settlement Funds, includes in-person behavioral counseling and several tobacco cessation medication treatments.
“For a long time, MD Anderson has worked to eliminate tobacco use at the local, state and national level,” said Mark Moreno, vice president for governmental relations. “EndTobacco is a perfect opportunity to align our internal goals with our external efforts.”