Frequently-Asked Questions: Smoke-Free Environment
Smoke-free Environment: Why are we doing this?
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of premature disease and death. Smoking and exposure to second hand smoke directly contribute to devastating health conditions such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The Vitalité Health Network, as a leader in health promotion and staff wellness, is dedicated to improving the health of its patients, employees and community.
Where on the hospital grounds does the smoke-free policy apply?
Effective January 1st, 2016, all of the Vitalité Health Network facilities and grounds will be 100% smoke free.
What does a smoke-free hospital mean?
All tobacco products/medical marijuana/herbal products intended to be smoked or heated, e-cigarettes/ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems) or any other smoking devices are strictly prohibited on hospital property, including inside any vehicle parked on the grounds.
Who do I contact if I have questions, feedback, or concerns about enforcement and compliance?
If want to share your ideas or concerns, please feel free to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To whom does the policy apply?
Those directly affected by this policy include patients, visitors, employees, physicians, volunteers, students, clergy, contractors, and anyone else acting on behalf of the Network while in or on Network owned or controlled premises, facilities, or vehicles.
Don’t smokers have a right to smoke?
There is no legal right to smoke. We are not asking employees, visitors and patients to quit smoking, but to refrain from smoking while working or visiting a Vitalité Health Network facility.
Why can't we have smoking huts or other designated outdoor smoking locations?
Smoking and second-hand smoke are known health hazards. Vitalité Health Network is committed to promoting a safe and healthy environment to foster wellness. Smoking on hospital property, even in designated areas, is not consistent with this commitment. Patients, visitors and employees should not be exposed to second-hand smoke while on hospital property.
Doesn’t this policy punish smokers?
This new policy is not intended to punish smokers. It is designed to provide patients, visitors and staff with a healthy and safe facility and workplace.
What kind of support is provided to inpatients who smoke?
Every inpatient will be screened for tobacco use and offered nicotine replacement therapy to help manage any nicotine withdrawal symptoms while in hospital. If inpatients are interested in smoking cessation, these supports will also be available.
What kind of support is being offered to employees?
Resources to assist employees in smoking cessation and/or nicotine withdrawal management will be provided through the Employee Health and Wellness Department.
What kind of support is being offered to visitors?
Visitors who wish to smoke must leave the hospital grounds. We encourage visitors to discuss Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) options with their community pharmacist if they plan to be on hospital property for extended periods of time. Visitors will also be encouraged to access the Smoker’s Helpline, which is available free of charge at 1-877-513-5333 or by visiting www.smokershelpline.ca.
Won’t there be more litter around the property because of cigarette butts?
As ambassadors and good neighbours, employees are expected to treat surrounding public areas and private properties with respect. This means that staff should avoid littering, including cigarette butts and other trash, on all properties adjoining ours.
How will visitors and patients be notified?
Extensive signage will be in place by January 1st, 2016 on Vitalité Health Network hospital grounds. Other methods of communication will also be used to ensure visitors and patients are aware of the policy.
Smoking helps calm down some of our patients. When they can’t smoke, won’t we experience complete mayhem?
Facilities that do not allow smoking report fewer incidents of seclusion and restraint and a reduction in coercion and threats among patients and staff. Uncomfortable nicotine withdrawal symptoms will be reduced by the appropriate use of nicotine replacement therapy and other medications.
Will the smoking policy be explained to job applicants?
Job applicants and new hires will be informed of the Vitalité Health Network Smoke-Free Environment Policy. The policy and script will also be reviewed at new employee orientation.
I’m a smoker. How can I get help?
We know quitting smoking is a process that doesn‘t happen the same way for everyone. Research shows that you will be most successful with a combination of support, coaching and medications. The Employee Health and Wellness department will be offering supports. Other options include speaking to your personal health-care provider or accessing the free Smokers Helpline (1-877-513-5333) or website (www.smokershelpline.ca).
Smokers Helpline, 1-877-513-5333 is a free resource. You will talk directly to a non-judgmental Quit Coach who can help you; whether you are thinking about quitting, ready to quit, actively quitting, need help staying smoke-free, not ready to quit or want to help someone else quit. They can help:
- Make a personalized quit plan
- Manage cravings, withdrawal symptoms and stress
- Learn about quit aids
- Find local support in your community
- Receive optional follow up calls throughout your quitting journey.
- National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (2010). Tobacco-Free Living in Psychiatric Settings: A best-practices toolkit promoting wellness and recovery. Retrieved from http://www.integration.samhsa.gov/pbhci-learning-community/Tobacco-Free_Living_in_Psychiatric_Settings_Toolkit.pdf
- Nebraska Hospital Association (2007). Moving Toward a Tobacco-Free Future: A Resource Guide for Nebraska Hospitals and Health Systems. Retrieved from http://nlcs1.nlc.state.ne.us/epubs/H8250/H001-2007.pdf
- Frequently Asked Questions, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Center ( n.d). Retrieved from http://www.tbrhsc.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Frequently-Asked-Questions.pdf
- Frequently Asked Questions, Horizon Health Network. Retrieved from http://en.horizonnb.ca/media/739988/sft_faqs_en.docx