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Should health care institutions refuse to hire smokers?

The question of whether hospitals and health care centres should be allowed to not hire smokers will come up for debate Friday afternoon at the annual Ottawa Conference on Smoking Cessation.

Question to be debated at annual Ottawa smoking cessation conference

Should hospitals refuse to hire smokers? It's a question being debated Friday afternoon at the eighth annual Ottawa Conference on Smoking Cessation. (Kate Rutherford/CBC)

Should hospitals and other health care centres refuse to hire smokers?

It's a question being debated Friday afternoon at the eighth annual Ottawa Conference on Smoking Cessation, taking place at the Westin Hotel.

"It's known, and employers are very much aware, that smokers incur very significant costs," said Andrew Pipe, the head of the prevention and rehabilitation division at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and the moderator of today's debate. 

"Their rates of absenteeism are greater. The rates of illness are greater. The insurance costs associated with providing supplemental health care are much higher if there are smokers."

Pipe offered a preview of today's debate with Ottawa Morning host Giacomo Panico. Listen to that conversation here.

Should hospitals refuse to hire smokers? It's an idea being debated by doctors today. 6:12

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