By Christina Hager, WBZ-TVBy Christina Hager

NEWBURYPORT (CBS) — If you smoke, don’t bother applying for a job at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport.

The hospital is requiring job applicants to take nicotine tests. If they test positive, they’ll be rejected. If they quit smoking, they can try again six months later.

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WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports.

“How far do we want our private employers to intrude in our private lives?” asks employee rights attorney Philip Gordon. “What happens if, during that blood test, they find out something else about me?”

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Hospital spokesperson Deb Chiaravalloti says, “We believe as a health care organization we need to make sure we have a healthy environment for our employees and our patients. Smokers are not a protected class.”

Last year, the hospital prohibited employees from smoking in the designated fenced-off area outside the building.

Next year, the hospital plans to ban smoking on the campus all together, even for patients and visitors.

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While Anna Jaques is the first hospital in Massachusetts to require nicotine testing, it is not the first employer. Last month, the Massachusetts Hospital Association announced it is no longer hiring smokers.

Christina Hager