In keeping with its mission to provide a healthy and safe environment to employees, patients, and visitors, Mid Coast Health Services is expanding its current smoking policy to a comprehensive tobacco-free policy, effective February 1, 2014. The new policy applies to patients, visitors, medical staff, vendors, and employees.
Mid Coast has successfully had a smoke-free policy in place since 2001, one of the first hospitals in Maine to ban smoking on all campuses. When the new policy goes into effect, no tobacco use of any kind (including chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes) will be allowed in Mid Coast Health buildings, surrounding areas, parking lots, or personal vehicles.
"Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in this country. We are a healthcare institution and our job is to save lives and prevent disease, so becoming 100% tobacco-free not only makes sense, but it is key to our mission and vision to protect the health of our community” said Lois Skillings, President and CEO of Mid Coast Health Services.
"As our first priority, we make resources, information, and treatment available to help with this transition,” said Stacey Schmidt, Tobacco Educator at Mid Coast Hospital. "No one, including employees, patients, or visitors, will be asked to quit using tobacco. However, for the safety of all, everyone will be expected to follow the policy.”
Mid Coast offers several ways to help people adapt to the new policy. Patients always have the opportunity to discuss nicotine replacement and medication options with their providers. The hospital also offers free tobacco cessation counseling to patients and staff, a service available through its Community Health Improvement program.
Key to the decision to become 100% tobacco-free is the U.S. Surgeon General’s report indicating that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger a heart attack in people with pre-existing cardiac conditions.
"Our tobacco-free policy is an example of our commitment to ensure that our employees, patients, and visitors are safe and as healthy as possible,” said Skillings.