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Twenty years ago, it was normal for hospitals to allow smoking in or near patient rooms.  But with what we’ve learned about the dangers of secondhand smoke, hospitals no longer allow smoking in their buildings.  This was a big step forward in creating a healthy environment for patients, staff, and visitors.

Now, hospitals are moving to take an even stronger stance against tobacco use by ensuring that their entire grounds – including parking lots, entryways, and outdoor shelters – are tobacco-free.  Hospitals are also realizing the value of supporting their employees in quitting smoking, by ensuring that they have medicines and counseling to help them quit.

On January 5, the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) unveiled Healing Inside and Out: Massachusetts Tobacco-Free Hospitals, a new initiative to support hospitals as they move toward being completely tobacco-free.  MHA developed the initiative in collaboration with the Department of Public Health.

Speaking at the initiative’s launch event, DPH Commissioner John Auerbach underscored the importance of smoke-free hospital campuses and helping people quit as a means of improving overall health, reducing chronic disease, and reducing the Commonwealth’s health care costs.

MHA Tobacco-free launch group shot1 
Pictured at the launch event are (left to right): David E. Storto, President of Spaulding Rehabilitation Network; Jaye Hefner, MD, Spaudling Rehabilitation Hospital physician and tobacco-free advocate; Lynn Nicholas, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Hospital Association; and John Auerbach, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

MHA has created an online resource center that provides implementation how-to’s, statistics, best practices, case studies, useful web links, a communications tool kit, and much more, at: http://www.mhalink.org/tobaccofreehospitals.

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health communication writer and editor

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