Hospitals Go Tobacco-Free

SALT LAKE CITY, UT (11/18/2009) – Intermountain Healthcare’s adult hospitals in the Salt Lake Valley will become permanently tobacco-free on Thursday, November 19, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout.

The new initiative prohibits the use of tobacco products anywhere on the grounds of Alta View Hospital in Sandy, Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, Riverton Hospital, and TOSH – The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Murray.

Riverton Hospital opened November 2 as a tobacco-free campus.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 440,000 deaths each year. The Utah Tobacco Prevention and Control Program estimates that smoking costs Utah $369 million in annual medical expenses and $294 million in lost productivity.

“Tobacco use increases an individual’s risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease, as well as many respiratory and oral diseases,” says Dr. Tamara Lewis, medical director of community health and prevention for Intermountain Healthcare. “With our Salt Lake area hospitals making the move to a tobacco-free environment, this addresses the rising concern over second-hand smoke, and provides a safer, more healing-centered environment for our patients, visitors, and staff.”

“Our hospitals are places of healing, and promoting health is central to Intermountain’s mission,” says Larry Hancock, region vice president for Intermountain’s hospitals in the Salt Lake Valley. “Offering a tobacco-free environment for our patients, guests, and their families is the right thing to do.”

According to the Joint Commission, 45 percent of U.S. hospitals had adopted a smoke-free campus policy. The Joint Commission projects that a majority of U.S. hospitals will have a smoke-free campus by the end of this year. Intermountain’s initiative will include all forms of tobacco, not just cigarettes.

Patients will be offered nicotine replacement therapy in the form of gum or patches. The same products will be available for visitors in hospital outpatient pharmacies as well as the gift shop at Intermountain Medical Center.

To commemorate Thursday’s transition to a tobacco-free campus and help celebrate the Great American Smokeout, campus tobacco-free teams and health department representatives will be on-hand in the main lobbies of each hospital with activities and information on how to quit using tobacco.

Intermountain Healthcare’s hospitals will become permanently tobacco-free on Thursday, November 19.