Blount Memorial continues tobacco-free efforts

In a continued effort to encourage a healthier environment for patients, visitors and employees, Blount Memorial Hospital will become a tobacco-free hospital on Jan. 1, 2011.

Blount Memorial took part in a joint announcement on Jan. 27, 2010, to become a tobacco-free workplace for employees. That effort included a partnership of Blount Memorial Hospital, Covenant Health, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Mercy Health partners and The University of Tennessee Medical Center. Since that time, Blount Memorial has decided to expand the initiative to include visitors and patients.

“The tobacco-free policy ties into the hospital’s vision and mission to continuously improve the health and well-being of our entire community,” Blount Memorial Hospital Administrator Joseph Dawson said. “The initiative also will provide for a healthier and safer environment for patients, visitors and employees, and will continue to promote positive health behaviors.”

As part of the new policy, patients, visitors and employees cannot use tobacco products while on Blount Memorial Hospital property, which includes the main campus and all off-site Blount Memorial facilities and clinics.

“We are not asking our patients, visitors and employees to quit smoking or using tobacco, only that they do not smoke or use tobacco while at Blount Memorial,” Dawson said. “This may be difficult for some people, but the hospital will be offering tobacco cessation and health education programs for those who want to try to make a change. We’re hoping that by sharing this upcoming change now, we can be a support system for our community members who currently use tobacco products but might be encouraged to quit.”

There are documented health benefits of not using tobacco products. According to the Surgeon General’s Report, smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and reducing the overall health of smokers. Quitting smoking has immediate, as well as long-term benefits, including reducing the risk for diseases caused by smoking and improving overall health. The Surgeon General also found that secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke.

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