AUT Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences
21 Jul 2014 63 Respondents
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By Amanda Lees
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PRACTICE CASE: Smoke free or free to smoke?

PRACTICE CASE: Smoke free or free to smoke?

Should a requirement of working as a health professional be that you are 'smoke free'?

On the one hand health professionals can play an important role in helping people to give up smoking and there is an expectation that GPs in particular will attempt to offer advice to all patient who smoke. Some patients may look to health professionals to set an example. However it may feel uncomfortable to promote the cessation of something that you do yourself. It could be the case that health professionals who do smoke are less motivated to outline the risks to their patients as they either underestimate the risks of smoking or feel that such discussions reflect a lack of authenticity. This may result in less information being offered to patients.

On the other hand all health workers bring strengths and limitations to their roles. Smokers are already labelled negatively in society and there is no need to austracise them further. Generally the motivation for people involved in health work is to improve the lives of those they work to help and it is perhaps an unfair link to infer that health professionals who smoke will be less skillfull. In fact being a smoker may allow the professional to feel more empathy for the plight of patients who are trying to give up.

What do you think?
It is proposed that a condition of employment as a health professional is that you do not smoke

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