November 15 isn’t just the national date set aside for the Great American Smokeout it is also the date that Gordon Hospital officially becomes a tobacco-free campus. Already a smoke-free building, the hospital is updating its policy to include a ban on tobacco products on hospital-owned property. The new policy will apply to all employees, patients and visitors.
“As the healthcare leader in Calhoun/Gordon County, we are committed to providing a healthy environment for our patients, visitors and staff,” says Carlene Jamerson, president and CEO of Gordon Hospital. “We feel this is an essential step toward helping our community live healthier lives and to help prevent disease that is caused by the use of tobacco products.”
Gordon Hospital isn’t the first to take this step. Hospitals across the country and in this area are also going tobacco free. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the United States. Because cigarette smoking and tobacco use are acquired behaviors, smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in our society.
In an effort to ease the transition to the tobacco free campus, the hospital will offer its smoking cessation class, Breathe Free, to aid those wishing to quit. Breathe Free has a 10-year track record of helping individuals break free from tobacco.
Statistics are Staggering After years of contemplating taking this step, the hospital decided now was the time to go tobacco-free. “When you look at the numbers of health related illnesses and deaths associated with smoking and tobacco use, it’s staggering,” says Jamerson. “We feel that we need to take a strong stance in support of good health.”
Jamerson has a point. The American Cancer Society’s research indicates that about half of all Americans who continue to smoke will die because of the habit. Each year about 440,000 people die in the United States from illnesses related to cigarette smoking. Cigarettes kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined. In addition, smoking is the major cause of heart disease, aneurysms, bronchitis, emphysema, and stroke, and it contributes to the severity of pneumonia and asthma.
In women, tobacco also has damaging effects on reproductive health. It is associated with fertility issues, a higher risk of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, and infant death, and is a cause of low birth weight infants. It has also been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
“We aren’t by any means trying to tell an individual how to live their life,” says Jamerson. “But we do feel very convicted about this decision, and that it is the right and best thing for us to do in the promotion of good health.”