Tobacco Prevention Program Newsletter, Spring 2011
By Lindsey Greto
Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States. Exposure to smoke, either first- or secondhand, is responsible for 443,000 deaths each year in this country.
As community leaders, hospitals are well-positioned to align campus tobacco policies with their missions of health and wellness. Medical procedures involving smokers pose added risks and exposure to tobacco smoke adversely impacts healing.
In 2011, at least four King County hospitals will dramatically transform their campuses with policies to prohibit smoking and the use of tobacco products on campus. The new policies will be inclusive of cigarettes and cigars, but also non-tobacco smoking devices such as e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. The policies will be supported with the addition of strong quit support systems for patients, visitors and staff.
Highline Medical Center: A Model for Communications and Support
On January 5, 2011, Highline Medical Center joined the majority of King County hospitals and implemented a strong tobacco-free campus policy on their campus. The policy extends to its specialty campus, which houses the Regional Hospital for Respiratory & Long-Term Care.
This move makes sense, according to Highline CEO Mark Benedum: "As a healthcare organization, we have a responsibility to create a healing environment that promotes health, wellness and safety not only for our patients, but for our staff, physicians, volunteers and visitors."
To steer implementation, Highline formed a policy committee which was led, developed and staffed by Highline employees and stakeholders and supported by the University of Washington and Public Health - Seattle & King County. The committee worked hard to share news and resources before the January 5 "Quit Date." With ongoing, targeted communication to their stakeholders, Highline set the standard for other hospitals to follow.
Highline's policy was supported by a commitment to provide referrals for tobacco cessation. To assist staff members who want to quit, the hospital entered into a partnership with the Quit for LifeÂ® program, which provides no-cost cessation services for employees. Highline also provides services for patients and visitors to manage any nicotine cravings while at the hospital and referrals to those who want to quit.
More information about Highline's policy can be found on the Highline Medical Center website.
University of Washington Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center: Large Institutions Taking a Big Step
UW Medical Center (UWMC) and Harborview Medical Center (HMC) will become smoke-free and tobacco-free facilities May 31, in concert with the World Health Organization's "World No Tobacco Day."
UWMC and HMC are Seattle institutions -- teaching hospitals that serve a diverse regional population. The hospitals formed representative committees to spearhead the tobacco-free initiative at each hospital. These committees include physicians, nurses, pharmacists, administrators, patient advisors, staff and people who smoke.
With the expertise of University of Washington faculty and researchers, these hospitals are on the cutting-edge for tobacco cessation support.
Starting in June, all patients will be screened for smoking and tobacco use status. Nicotine replacement therapy and counseling will be offered to patients who request it and at discharge, patients will be referred to appropriate community resources, including the Washington State Tobacco Quit Line.
To help minimize withdrawal symptoms, low-cost one day supplies of nicotine replacement therapy will be available for staff and visitor purchase.
Employees have strong cessation benefits through the Quit for Life® program and can access those services if they choose. UW students have free access to smoking cessation services through UW Hall Health.
More information can be found here on the UW Medicine website.
The Next Step
Through CPPW, the University of Washington will continue outreach to the six non-tobacco-free hospitals in the County. They can provide specialized technical assistance to implement tobacco-free policies and treatment protocols.
With these policy changes, Highline Medical Center, the Regional Hospital for Respiratory & Long-Term Care, University of Washington Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center made strong commitments to protect the health of patients, visitors and staff. We look forward to the day when all patients in King County have access to hospitals that are free from smoke and tobacco.