GREENEVILLE, TN – Laughlin Memorial Hospital and Takoma Adventist Hospital announced today in a joint press conference that their campuses will be tobacco-free, effective March 1.
“There is indisputable evidence that tobacco use kills,” Carlyle Walton, Takoma’s president and CEO, said. “An estimated 440,000 Americans die from smoking-related diseases each year, and nearly 20,000 Tennesseans die annually from tobacco use. Because we genuinely care about this community’s health, we cannot condone the use of a life-threatening product. It goes against our very mission as a healing sanctuary.”
Walton noted that he is pleased to work with Laughlin on such an important community initiative. “Together, we are taking a huge step toward improving the health of our community by eliminating second-hand smoke at our hospitals,” he said. “We believe this policy can make a difference in Greeneville, and we hope other organizations and businesses will consider becoming smoke-free worksites.”
Added Chuck Whitfield, president and CEO of Laughlin: “With the holidays just behind us and New Year’s resolutions ahead, Laughlin Memorial Hospital and its affiliated agencies join Takoma Hospital to ensure that one of our resolutions includes protecting our patients, visitors and healthcare team members from exposure to second-hand smoke.”
More than 1,000 non-smokers will die from lung, heart disease and other second-hand smoking-related diseases in Tennessee during 2006, Whitfield said. “Even though second-hand smoke is a serious health threat to adults, it can be equally harmful to children,” he noted.
According to the December 2005 “American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine,” exposure to second-hand smoke is a hazard for everyone, especially children. Children who regularly breathe in second-hand smoke have a greater chance of getting bronchitis, pneumonia, colds, ear infections and asthma.
The two Greeneville hospitals announced their new tobacco-free policy during a press conference Feb. 13 at the General Morgan Inn & Conference Center. This policy will prohibit the use of all tobacco products, including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
As of March 1, the ban on tobacco use will be extended to everyone within the Laughlin and Takoma campuses, including patients, families, contract workers and visitors.
“The public’s assistance and cooperation during the implementation of this new policy, which will provide a healthier environment for our community, will be greatly appreciated,” Whitfield said.
Takoma initiated the tobacco-free policy for its associates in August 2005. “In an effort to ease their transition, we offered all associates and their spouses free smoking cessation classes, and nicotine replacement products were provided at cost,” Walton said. “We’ve had several associates take us up on it, and they have become amazing success stories for their peers.”
Laughlin implemented its tobacco-free policy for all of its healthcare team members effective January 1, 2006. “We offer all our healthcare team members, as well as their spouses, free nicotine replacement products,” Whitfield said. “We are also currently implementing a healthy lifestyles program for our staff which includes special smoking cessation programs, that provides education materials and support groups. This program will also promote other health-related lifestyles.”
Smoke-free campuses are becoming a growing trend at hospitals around the country. “Just look at the statistics and you’ll understand why,” Walton said.
In Tennessee, according to the American Lung Association:
· 26 percent of the state’s adults smoke
· 32 percent of the state’s high school students smoke
· 17 percent of the state’s middle school students smoke
· There are more than 19,700 deaths each year that can be attributed to smoking
· Annual economic costs due to smoking reached $4.13 billion in 2002
In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 17 percent of pregnant women in Tennessee smoke, despite overwhelming evidence that doing so is harmful to their child. As a result, neonatal intensive care unit admissions across the state have risen by 3 percent during the past few years, and the number of babies born with low birth rates has gone up 10 percent. This has resulted in $9.3 million in unnecessary medical costs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
· Smokeless tobacco -- also known as spit tobacco, snuff or chewing tobacco – is not a safe alternative to smoking.
· Chewing tobacco can cause mouth cancer and has been linked to other kinds of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
· One “dip” of smokeless tobacco can deliver as much nicotine as several cigarettes.
· Smokeless tobacco can cause cracked lips, tooth decay, bleeding gums and sores in the mouth that take a long time to heal.
· Chewing tobacco lessens a person’s sense of taste and ability to smell. As a result, users tend to eat more salty and sweet foods, both of which are harmful if consumed in excess.
· Smokeless tobacco is expensive. People who use a can a day spend more than $1,800 a year on tobacco.