UC Davis Health System going smoke-free on July 1
In keeping with its core mission of advancing health and maintaining a healing environment for patients, visitors, students and employees, UC Davis Health System's Sacramento campus becomes a completely smoke-free environment on July 1, 2008.
By establishing a smoke-free environment throughout the areas surrounding the medical center complex, UC Davis joins a growing number of hospitals and health systems around the country, including the Cleveland and Mayo clinics, as well as several Sacramento-area health providers, that have implemented broad no-smoking policies.
The new policy at the medical center is based on the large body of scientific data conducted over the past three decades that confirms tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, is a serious health hazard for which there is no risk-free level of exposure. Adverse effects for patients who smoke are also well known, including delayed wound healing, increased wound infections and increased healing time for fractures.
The new smoke-free zone encompasses all outdoor properties surrounding the UC Davis Medical Center, including sidewalks and parking areas. For visitors who can't leave the premises, the health system will offer free nicotine gum as a way to temporarily reduce the craving for tobacco.
"We know this will be a major change for our faculty, staff and visitors and will take some time for everyone to become fully aware of it and adjust," said Ann Madden Rice, chief executive officer for UC Davis Medical Center. "But as a health-care leader in the region, we are dedicated to creating an atmosphere of good health and healing. Reduction of exposure to secondhand smoke fits with our mission and patient-care goals."
"Creating a workplace and patient-care environment that's free from tobacco smoke is a healthy goal and is the right thing to do for our patients and their families, as well as our staff," said Rice. "It is our obligation to set a good example and encourage healthy habits because, ultimately, everyone benefits."
In preparation for the new policy, the health system, in conjunction with the California Tobacco Control Alliance, added extra smoking cessation classes for both employees and outpatients as a way to give smokers who wanted to quit more opportunities to address their nicotine habits before the policy went into effect.
"It might sound a little corny, but I'm truly thankful for UC Davis' smoking cessation program and probably wouldn't have had the incentive to take it had it not been for the new smoke-free policy," said Suzanne McInish, an administrative assistant in the Department of Otolaryngology. "I credit my success to the excellent information and guidance I received during the classes. Had I known it would have been so easy, I would have quit long, long ago."
UC Davis cessation experts in the division of preventive cardiology acknowledge that not every participant has an easy or successful outcome. The addiction to nicotine is one of the most difficult habits for people to overcome. Establishing smoke-free zones and thereby reducing opportunities to smoke are viewed as important steps in tackling addiction to tobacco.
"Creating a workplace and patient-care environment that's free from tobacco smoke is a healthy goal and is the right thing to do," said Rice. "It is our obligation to set a good example and encourage healthy habits because, ultimately, everyone benefits."