Regional Medical Center and Health Centers Go Smoke-Free
November 14, 2006
Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (CCRMC) and the 10 county health center campuses will become completely smoke-free starting Thursday as part of the National Great American Smokeout celebration. Thursday's celebration will include activities and even a blimp at CCRMC and will run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The permanent ban on smoking anywhere at CCRMC and the Health Center sites comes as a result of a new comprehensive secondhand smoke protections ordinance passed last month by the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors. Adopted October 17, the secondhand smoke ordinance bans smoking in public parks and trails, common areas of multi-unit housing residences, public event venues, public service areas such as ATM lines or bus stops, outdoor dining areas, within 20 feet of all business doorways, operable windows and ventilation units, and at CCRMC and the Health Centers. Smoking also is prohibited in all buildings open to the public, including owner-operated businesses and hotel lobbies.
Facilities Manager Larry Carlson said the Medical Center and Health Centers started working with Public Health's Tobacco Prevention Project more than two years ago to establish a smoke-free campus. Until this month, people have been directed to smoke only in designated outdoor areas at CCRMC, but this didn't work.
"This rule was hard to enforce and there were cigarette butts all over the campus and people even tried to smoke indoors," Carlson said.
For the past few months, signs have alerted staff and patients to the coming policy that bans all tobacco products, even in cars parked at CCRMC. Tobacco Prevention Project Manager Denice Dennis said the county's decision to go smoke-free sends a powerful message about the importance of protecting the public from secondhand smoke.
"Secondhand smoke kills and this is a way to protect both our patients and employees. We know it can be hard to quit smoking but there is help for those who need it," Dennis said.
Letters were sent to all CCRMC and health center employees and unions and information has been provided about tobacco cessation options, including the California Smokefree Hotline (1-800-NO BUTTS).
Handouts will now be included in the CCRMC admissions pack, explaining the policy and stressing the dangerous effects of smoking. The kitchen is planning crunchy, low-fat snacks to help smoking patients cope with cravings. Smoking cessation assistance will be available for patients and providers.
For information about CCRMC's Great American Smokeout celebration or its new policy, contact Larry Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 925-370-5141. For information about the ordinance, contact Denice Dennis at email@example.com or 925-313-6825. CCRMC is located at 2500 Alhambra Avenue, Martinez.
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