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Cayuga Medical Center Goes Tobacco Free
Kathy Eliason, MS, RN

 

On "World No Tobacco Day," May 31, 2012 Cayuga Medical Center will extend its tobacco-free policies to include all outdoor grounds, properties, and parking areas. The implementation of this policy will reduce the harmful exposure to secondhand smoke when people visit Cayuga Medical Center campuses.

 

Why is Cayuga Medical Center becoming tobacco free?

 

We believe it is our responsibility to provide our patients with a healthy environment, free of secondhand smoke and the odors of secondhand smoke. Our tobacco-free policy is also part of a larger health and wellness initiative to create opportunities for our employees to maintain and improve their health. By going tobacco-free Cayuga Medical Center is aligned with other area businesses and organizations interested in promoting good health in "T-Free Zones" throughout Tompkins County

 

Going tobacco free just makes sense. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States and is contrary to Cayuga Medical Center’s mission to model and contribute to health and wellbeing. According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. The adverse health affects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in this country. And smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking as it can cause cancer, oral health problems, and nicotine addition.

 

What if I am a smoker and I need to be admitted to the hospital?

 

If you are a smoker we can offer you support during your hospitalization. When you are admitted, our clinical staff will talk with you about nicotine withdrawal. Your physician can write orders for nicotine replacement to treat withdrawal symptoms and make you more comfortable. We have found that nicotine replacement therapy can be the first step towards quitting for some patients.

 

How will the tobacco-free policy be promoted at the medical center?

 

We want to foster a healthy environment and we appreciate the confidence our patients and visitors have in the care we provide. When we encounter people smoking on campus our goal is to be helpful. We will assume the smoker doesn't know about our policy, we will offer information, and kindly ask them to put out the tobacco. Many people coming to the medical center experience unpleasant symptoms when encountering cigarette smoke and we hope to help others understand.

 

What areas does the tobacco-free policy cover?

 

All medical center facilities and campuses will be designated as tobacco-free environments. This includes the Cayuga Medical Center main campus, parking lots, gardens, and grounds, the Convenient Care Center campuses in Ithaca and Cortland, the Island Health Center, Island Health and Fitness at Community Corners, all properties around Cayuga Medical Associates locations, and all Lab Draw Stations. All of the current areas designated for smoking outside will be gone as of May 31.

 

We do not require people to quit using tobacco. People remain free to use tobacco off campus, without being judged or criticized. Cayuga Medical Center policy simply requires that tobacco not be used on our properties or around our facilities. And for people who want to stop using tobacco, we can help.

 

Kathy Eliason, MS, RN, is the lifestyle coordinator for the Cayuga Center for Healthy Living. Her nursing career has focused on health promotion and community education. She has a special interest in tobacco dependence and oversees the tobacco cessation classes and support groups.

 

For information on our tobacco cessation classes and support groups, call the Cayuga Center for Healthy Living at (607) 252-3590.

 

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