BRISTOL, Va. (AP) -- A health care system that serves southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee is no longer going to hire tobacco users.
Media outlets report that Mountain States Health Alliance announced the new policy Wednesday. It's effective March 1.
Mountain States spokeswoman Teresa Hicks says the company wants to set an example that tobacco use has no place in a healthy lifestyle.
She also says patients have complained about doctors and nurses smelling like tobacco smoke.
Job applicants will be screened for tobacco use. If nicotine is found in their system, Hicks says their application will be deferred and they can reapply in six months.
The new policy doesn't apply to current workers.
Mountain States operates 13 hospitals and seven urgent care clinics in the region.