Hospitals are encouraged to adopt a model tobacco-free policy to promote and protect the health of the patients, staffs and visitors. A model tobacco-free hospital policy prohibits the use of any form of tobacco product inside the hospital, on hospital grounds, or in hospital owned or leased vehicles by all persons at all times. Tobacco-free hospitals will eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in the hospital environment leading to the reduction of tobacco use and tobacco-related illnesses and diseases. Secondhand smoke is a mixture of smoke exhaled by smokers and the smoke from the burning end of combustible tobacco product. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke exposure.
Currently, we have one hundred and thirty tobacco-free hospitals in Georgia which include ninety-four acute care hospitals, twenty-six critical access hospitals, seven specialty hospitals and three psychiatric/behavioral health hospitals.
Reasons for Tobacco-Free hospitals
- Eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Reducing the cost associated with cleaning and maintenance of the property.
- Reducing the risk of fire incident in hospitals.
- Reducing costs associated with smoke damage.
- The hospital is an environment that should promote the health and recovery of the patients, visitors and employee.
Action Steps to Implementing and Enforcing a Tobacco-Free Hospital Policy
- Hospital authorities are encouraged to develop a workgroup or task force to oversee the tobacco-free policy implementation and enforcement plan.
- Provide resources to educate the task force, employees, visitors and patients.
- Survey the employees and residents to assess their level of knowledge and attitude towards tobacco-free policy.
- Create a communication plan.
- Develop a tobacco-free policy that is concise, clear, simple and comprehensive.
- Develop an enforcement plan that is consistent with other personnel policies and disciplinary procedures.
- Announce the policy several month prior to the implementation date
Finally, hospital authorities are encouraged to provide cessation services for the employees and patients to promote quitting among them.