Today is World No Tobacco Day, May 31, 2011: Marin General Hospital Announces it will go Smoke-Free

GREENBRAE, CA — Marin General Hospital today announced plans to implement a new tobacco-free policy at all facilities, effective this fall.

Hospital leaders say the new policy reflects the health system’s mission: “We are eliminating tobacco use on our properties to provide a healthy and safe environment for employees, patients and visitors and to promote positive health behaviors,” said Lee Domanico, Chief Executive Officer at Marin General Hospital. “Maintaining a tobacco-free campus is consistent with our overall health mission.”

The new policy bans the use of all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes and smokeless tobacco, within all properties owned by Marin General Hospital. This includes parking lots, hospital vehicles, and employees’ personal vehicles parked on the premises.

Our mission calls us to improve the health of not only those we serve and their families, but also those who work with us. Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable disease worldwide and is responsible for approximately one in five deaths in the United States. Tobacco use in and around our hospital poses health and safety risks for patients, employees and visitors.

As a health care provider, we feel it is necessary to take a stand to stop this public health epidemic. Marin General Hospital joins hundreds of hospitals across the nation that have become tobacco-free. Our tobacco-free policy is intended to create a healthy environment for everyone who comes to Marin General Hospital to receive care, visit a patient or work.

Marin General Hospital views tobacco use as a quality concern: “We can no longer turn a blind eye to on-campus smoking when we know that continued tobacco use can cause problems for a patient,” said chief medical officer, Joel Sklar, MD. “Smoking retards wound healing, increases infection rates in surgeries, and is the most common cause of poor birth outcomes.”

Furthermore, three-fourths of all tobacco users say they want to quit. But Marin General Hospital recognizes the challenges of breaking the addiction to nicotine and respects an individual’s quitting process. We are not telling anyone, ‘you must quit smoking. We are saying, ‘Don’t use tobacco at our hospital.’ While you are a patient or visitor at this hospital, we can suggest ways to ease nicotine withdrawal symptoms. And if you are ready to quit, we have trained professionals and community partners who can help you.

Marin General Hospital hopes hospital employees will help educate visitors and patients about the new policy, said Lee Domanico, “This will not be easy,” he said, “but it‘s central to our continuing efforts to make Marin General Hospital an excellent place to work and to receive health care.” In implementing the new tobacco ban, the hospital plans to offer symptom relief or tobacco cessation treatment to interested staff, visitors and patients.

Dr. Steven Schroeder, member of Marin General Hospital Board of Directors and Director of UCSF School of Medicine National Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, praised the upcoming policy: “We could not be more pleased with the policy announcement from Marin General Hospital. This is a great way to raise awareness about how important it is that smokers quit and that we as a community help smokers with that process by providing smoke-free environments to make it safer to prevent relapse. This is consistent with what hospitals are doing all over California and the United States. While helping smokers quit, hospitals are also protecting patients from second hand smoke exposure and third hand smoke particles clinging to hospital uniforms.”

Bob Curry, Coordinator of the County’s Tobacco Related Disease Control Program, expressed support for the policy: “With Marin General Hospital’s new policy, all hospital campuses in Marin County will have tobacco-free campuses. We look forward to providing compassionate programs for Marin General Hospital patients who wish to stop smoking. Anyone can receive help by contacting our program at 1-415-755-2334 or www.smokefreemarin.com. This effort by Marin General Hospital is an outstanding contribution toward the public health in Marin County.”

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