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Article updated: 11/15/2012 7:27 AM

Should cancer center discriminate against hiring smokers?

By Mike Riopell

SPRINGFIELD -- State Sen. Dan Duffy says he's not yet sure if he'll ask lawmakers to override a Gov. Pat Quinn veto of his plan to allow Cancer Treatment Centers of America to weigh whether someone smokes when making hiring decisions.

The Lake Barrington Republican has argued that people arriving for cancer treatment shouldn't have to smell tobacco smoke on workers, perhaps dampening their spirits. The plan, in practice, would only affect Cancer Treatment Centers of America because the sole purpose of the organization is caring for cancer patients.

Other employers, including hospitals, still wouldn't be allowed to discriminate against smokers.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America's Midwestern Regional Medical Center is in Zion.

Lawmakers largely agreed with Duffy.

The plan was approved by the Illinois House and Senate earlier this year. But Quinn vetoed it over the summer.

"Although this bill has been narrowly drawn to primarily apply to employees of a cancer-treatment center, there are more extensive consequences which could have an impact on a citizen's right to privacy," Quinn wrote in a veto message.

Duffy says Quinn asked him to huddle with labor leaders to find a way to work out their differences over the legislation. But no agreement has been reached.

"We already went through the legislative process," Duffy said.

Now, Duffy can decide if he'll try to override Quinn when lawmakers return to Springfield later this month. His other option would be to try to create a compromise version of the plan in the spring and try to win approval again.

Lawmakers' return to Springfield later this month is specifically to debate Quinn's vetoes. But Quinn vetoed very few proposals this year.

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