Flowers Hospital starts new year with tobacco ban

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Posted: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 12:29 pm

Flowers Hospital is joining a growing number of health care facilities nationwide that are going tobacco free. The hospital recently announced that on Jan. 1 it would institute a campus-wide ban on tobacco use.

“We’re excited about it,” Karen Wortmann, director of professional services, said. “I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Suzanne Woods, Flowers CEO, said in a press release, “We started our journey to a tobacco-free environment in June with our own employees and volunteers, supported by our medical staff. We believe Flowers Hospital has a responsibility to provide a healthy and safe environment for employees, patients and visitors and to promote positive, healthy behaviors. Therefore, we must ‘walk the talk’ and show our commitment and leadership in tangible ways.”

On Jan. 1, the use of any tobacco product will be banned on all Flowers Hospital property, including in the parking lot. The ban also extends to electronic cigarettes, Wortmann said.

“It looks like you’re smoking and may let other people think it’s OK to smoke,” Wortmann said. “It also creates a spark, which in an oxygen environment is dangerous.”

Patients who smoke will be able to work with their nurses to arrange a nicotine alternative with their doctors.

Flowers has already phased out on-campus smoking for its employees, vendors and volunteers, instituting a ban back in June.

Wortmann said the ban had helped many Flowers staff who were smokers kick the habit.

Smoking has long been linked to a number of health issues, including cancer and strokes. Hospitals around the U.S. have been transitioning to tobacco or smoke-free campuses. According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, more than 3,810 local or state hospitals, healthcare systems, and clinics have banned tobacco at their facilities.

Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan also recently announced it would become smoke-free beginning Jan. 1. The medical center’s policy prohibits the use of traditional cigarettes as well as electronic cigarettes on any of its properties. The policy pertains to staff, patients and visitors.

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