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Piedmont Atlanta Hospital soon will be a tobacco and smoke-free campus with the expansion of the hospital’s policy on Jan. 1, making use of any tobacco products outside on hospital grounds prohibited.
The announcement was made Thursday in honor of the 37th annual American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout and in support of the City of Atlanta and Fulton County’s recent efforts to be a healthier community.
Piedmont Atlanta’s new policy, which applies to all employees, physicians, patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors and vendors, is an expansion of the existing policy which prohibits the use of tobacco in all buildings. Under the new policy, smoking will be prohibited near all entrances and on hospital walkways, grounds, parking lots and in any vehicles parked on Piedmont Atlanta Hospital property.
“Years of research have shown us how dangerous the effects of smoking are to one’s health,” said Mark Cohen, M.D., vice president of medical affairs and chief quality officer at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. “As a community hospital, it is our job not only to restore the health of patients who come to us for help but to protect them from things that are harmful to their health like secondhand smoke.
“We certainly recognize that people have the right to choose to continue smoking, despite all the health risks the habit poses to one’s health,” said Dr. Cohen. “We just ask they not smoke while on our campus. If they’re interested in breaking the habit, there are plenty of resources out there that can help.”
Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S. Yet about 43.8 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, according to the American Cancer Society –nearly one in every five adults.
“We feel that this is a positive step in that the citizens who seek quality health care delivery will not have their health outcomes placed in jeopardy due to the effects second-hand smoke,” said Ken Lazarus, co-chair of the Smoke Free Coalition of Fulton County. “We thank the health system for taking this critical step to help increase the air quality in Fulton County.”
Smoke Free Coalition of Fulton County, a locally-led grassroots coalition, is working to educate the community about the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure and the benefits of smoke-free workplaces for Fulton County residents, workers, and visitors.