WILMINGTON – On Nov. 15, 2007, the date of the Great American Smokeout, New Hanover Regional Medical Center will join the growing ranks of North Carolina hospitals that have banned the use of all tobacco products on their property, a policy designed to send a powerful message in support of healthier lifestyles for employees and a healthier environment for patient healing.
The Board of Trustees approved a recommendation Tuesday night from the Board’s Quality Committee to adopt the tobacco-free policy.
When New Hanover Regional officially goes tobacco-free, 93 hospitals in the state, including 19 of the state’s largest 20 general medical/surgical hospitals, will have banned use of tobacco products on their campuses.
The policy applies to employees, patients, physicians, students, families, visitors, volunteers and all others who either visit or do business on any property owned by New Hanover Regional Medical Center, including Cape Fear Hospital and other offsite locations. It also applies to all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, herbal tobacco products and chewing tobacco.
“As the region’s largest health care provider and largest employer, we believe we should promote healthier living among our patients and our employees,” said Jack Barto, NHRMC President and CEO. “We treat too many people with illnesses that could have been prevented had they stopped smoking. The hospital is not the appropriate place to encourage or allow anyone to use tobacco.”
The Medical Executive Committee of the medical staff at NHRMC has endorsed and supports the hospitals tobacco-free initiative.
During the six months leading to the policy change, NHRMC employees, spouses and volunteers will be offered nicotine replacement therapies, smoking cessation classes and other resources for free.
Patients and visitors will be offered referrals to educational services, and nicotine patches and nicotine gum will be available in the gift shop and in other locations. Signage in multiple locations will alert patients and visitors to the changing policy.
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in North Carolina, with more than 450,000 a year dying from smoking-related diseases. About 30 percent of all deaths from heart disease are directly related to smoking. Smoking costs the nation about $150 billion each year in health care and other expenses.
Second-hand smoke causes about 3,000 deaths a year among adult non-smokers and between 150,000 and 300,000 cases of respiratory infections among children younger than 18 months.
At the workplace, smokers incur 2.5 more sick days a year and 18 percent more in overall health costs than non-smokers.
“A healthier workforce not only benefits our patients, but our employees will be healthier parents, spouses, volunteers and civic leaders,” Barto said. “We’re proud to take this step toward fulfilling our mission of making the community as healthy as possible.” Click here for more information and frequently asked questions.
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