UPMC goes too far with its anti-smoking policy for workers

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Regarding the recent news of how UPMC is trying to mandate the personal lives of its “employees” (if I remember correctly, it says it does not have “employees”) on their private time (“UPMC Extinguishes Personnel’s Smoking,” July 2): An entity as large as UPMC believes it is above the law and thus has the right to infringe on time in which these employees are not even on UPMC premises.

My question to UPMC is this: Since when can an employer tell an “employee” what he or she is permitted to do on a lunch break or while traveling to his or her job (it will be difficult for employees to smoke en route to work because of repercussions if they smell of smoke)? Unless that person is being paid for the lunch break and may not leave the premises, I cannot see how smoking on his or her own time is any of UPMC’s business. I even understand that UPMC is planning to use “sniffers” to determine whether someone is suspected of smoking on his or her break. Will the “sniffers” be addressing other problems that may affect the welfare of UPMC patients such as strong perfumes/​colognes that bother the asthmatics, or strong body odor that generally bothers anyone? Will they be also sniffing breath for offensive odors? I don’t think so.

I understand why UPMC wants to eliminate smoking among its employees: money. The cost of medical and paid time off due to smoke-related illness is indeed costly. It is more cost-efficient to anger the “employee” who smokes to the point of quitting and hire a new employee at a much lower wage and lower seniority than keep the high-maintenance loyal “employee.” This proves only one thing: UPMC, the nonprofit giant, is only concerned with money and profits.

LORRAINE AMORELLI
Forest Hills


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