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Exempla Lutheran Enacts Stricter Smoking Ban

June 23, 2008
Exempla Lutheran enacts stricter smoking ban By Jeff Francis write the author Jeffco News June 05, 2008 Workers, patients and even visitors will no longer be allowed a puff or even a plug of tobacco while on the campus of Exempla Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge. Beginning July 3, Exempla will be completely tobacco free, a move officials cite as an emerging trend in hospitals nationwide. "What we really wanted to do was take the lead in providing a healthy community by providing a healthy campus," said Colleen Hatton, director of Lutheran's Bridges Integrated Health and Wellness. "We've gotten some very good reaction to this idea." The new policy expands upon the hospital's current smoking policy by restricting tobacco use – both cigarettes and smokeless – beyond the hospital walls. Under the upcoming policy, a visitor to the hospital would be restricted from being in his or her private car while chewing tobacco. Punitive measures for the behavior could vary. Hospital spokespeople said they don't foresee the need for strong-armed enforcement with visitors. "I've never heard of a security officer asking a visitor to open their mouth to verify if they're using smokeless tobacco," said Donna Viverette, health education programs supervisor with the Jefferson County Department of Health and Environment. "It's about helping them understand the policy. In some cases it would be asking a visitor to move off-campus to use the tobacco." Viverette added that implementing the new policy would be uneventful on hospital grounds. 'There's nothing that would happen unless someone became combative," she said. Kim Kobel, Exempla spokeswoman, said proactive enforcement of the policy would vary. "The idea is not to have the security monitoring the parking lot," Kobel said. "Nobody's going to be out looking for that, but if we see it, we will address it." Proponents of the smoking ban also considered members of hospital staff who may smoke. Hatton said the policy implementation was preceded by eight months of smoking cessation classes for hospital staff. Additionally, nicotine patches will be readily available in the hospital pharmacy. "If they're on the clock, the only way they can smoke is to go off campus, and they'd be off the clock," Hatton said. "If the employees are caught several times (breaking the policy), they are definitely subject to corrective actions. "We've spent eight months on this, so we've really tried to make the transition easy," she said.