Smokefree Hospitals: What a difference three years makes

I just returned from paternity leave for the birth of my second daughter and got to spend a little time at Sutter Memorial Hospital.  Sutter Memorial is now a completely smokefree hospital, which was not the case three years ago when my first daughter was born.

Back in February 2007, there were designated smoking areas in the outdoor areas of the hospital and one happened to be placed directly between the visitor parking lot and the maternity entrance to the hospital.  It was awful.  When we arrived for the delivery and every time I had to go out to the car to get something, I had to either walk directly through a huge cloud of smoke or take the long route to the car to avoid the designated smoking area. 

Three years later, and it is a whole different hospital.  That designated smoking area between the hospital and parking lot is gone and it is a nice smokefree walk to the maternity entrance.  The hospital is blanketed with signage indicating that it is a smokefree campus.  It is a great accomplishment by the hospital and by local tobacco control advocates in Sacramento County to make the hospital smokefree.

However, just because the policy is in place doesn’t mean that everyone will follow the rules.  When smokefree policies are adopted, tobacco control advocates often talk about how they are self-enforcing and don’t require staff time or resources.  That was the case at Sutter Memorial.  I did notice several people ignoring the policy and smoking on campus and had to ask them to stop smoking.  The large amount of signage was empowering and made it easier for me to inform them of the smokefree policy.

Smokefree hospitals make a lot of sense and we all have a role to play when we visit hospitals to make sure that they stay smokefree. 

–Justin Garrett

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