DENVER (CBS4)– Centura Health will no longer hire smokers or tobacco users starting in January of next year.

The healthcare company said it’s part of their efforts to enhance its smoke/tobacco-free workplace policy in both Colorado and Kansas.

“We believe we are encouraging healthy living,” said Centura’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Pete Walsh.

Under the policy, applicants selected for a position after January 1, 2015 will be tested for tobacco as part of their job offer screening.

The use of tobacco products is already prohibited at all Centura Health facilities after they became smoke and tobacco free in 2012.

Centura said tobacco use is dangerous to a person’s health and this latest step will promote the health of the workplace.

“We don’t intend to do what I call nicotine testing on a routine basis to maintain culpability of the individual. The initial testing will serve that purpose but we continue to encourage people to quit smoking,” said Walsh.

The change to the smoke/tobacco free workplace policy does not apply to current employees.

Not everyone agrees with the policy. Smoker Jeanette Coleman believes lighting up is a personal decision and shouldn’t affect someone’s opportunity for employment.

“It’s my choice. You know, I chose to quit, I quit for a few years. I choose to start, I started for a little while,” said Coleman.

Non-smoker Jack Allan wrote on CBS4’s Facebook page, “What about those who drink? Oh, yeah and I am a former smoker. It’s stinky and nasty but there’s a whole bunch of other foul but legal substances. Are those off limits also?”

“As the region’s leading health care system, we are deeply committed to improving the health of our communities, especially as we move upstream to manage health,” said Gary Campbell, president and CEO, Centura Health. “It is important that we serve as a role model by internally promoting the benefits of health and wellness to create and sustain a healthy workforce. By inspiring one and another to achieve our own level of health and wellness, we will truly optimize health care value for consumers.”

“I think they are crossing the line. I truly think they are crossing the line,” said Coleman.

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