Hospitals are encouraged to adopt a model tobacco-free policy that promotes and protects the health of patients, staffs and visitors. The policy prohibits the use of all forms of tobacco products inside the hospital, on hospital grounds, and in hospital owned or leased vehicles. The tobacco-free policy also eliminates exposure to secondhand smoke in the hospital environment, leading to reduction of tobacco use and tobacco-related illnesses. Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke from the burning end of combustible tobacco products and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke exposure.
In Georgia, there are 131 tobacco-free hospitals which include 94 acute care hospitals, 26 critical access hospitals, 7 specialty hospitals and 3 psychiatric/behavioral health hospitals.
Benefits of a Tobacco-Free Hospital Policy
For the employers:
- Recognition as a leader in protecting the health of the public.
- Increase productivity in the employees by reducing time off due to tobacco-related illnesses.
- Reduce healthcare cost associated with tobacco related illnesses.
- Reduce costs associated with risk of fire incident and smoke damage.
- Reduce cost associated with cleaning and maintenance of the property.
For the employees, patients, and visitors:
- Create a safe and healthier environment.
- Eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Support cessation by enhancing benefits and resources.
Action Steps to Implementing and Enforcing a Tobacco-Free Hospital Policy
- Develop a task force to oversee the tobacco-free policy implementation and enforcement.
- Survey staff and patients to assess their level of knowledge and attitude towards tobacco-free policy.
- Develop a tobacco-free policy that includes cessation resources for staff, patients, and visitors.
- Develop an enforcement plan that is consistent with other personnel policies and disciplinary procedures.
- Provide resources to educate the task force, employees, patients, and visitors.
- Create a communication plan to announce the policy several months prior to the implementation date.