Posted by: audreybenenati | February 5, 2010

With the Great American Smokeout Comes New Policies

In Good Health magazine

February 2010

By Nicki Bagnett

The Great American Smokeout is the annual day that encourages people to quit using tobacco products or to help support others in their efforts to quit. This year the hospitals in OnondagaCounty took this day a step further. They implemented the new smoke free county ordinance and took time to educate their staff and patients about what the ordinance entails. Most hospital campuses already had a smoke free policy in place, but it wasn’t until Nov. 19 that all the community hospitals could share a similar message based on a countywide mandate.

Beginning Nov. 1 the new ordinance went into effect following the efforts of Onondaga County Legislature. The hospitals chose to use the first couple weeks in November, prior to the Great American Smokeout to educate their staff and visitors and to design the proper signage to put around their facilities. This new smoke-free ordinance creates a no-smoking zone within 100 feet of a hospital. The regulations apply to the public streets, sidewalks and parking facilities, which make up the hospitals. If someone is in violation of one of these restrictions, they may receive a fine of $50.

Some of the hospitals are fining patrons immediately, while others are letting smokers off with a warning. UpstateMedicalUniversity, for example, is one of the hospitals giving out warnings to start their enforcement. Likewise, at S. Joseph’s HospitalHealthCenter, the policy is similar. “We’re going to inform people that they shouldn’t be smoking if they are smoking in the wrong place and direct them to put it out, the first step will not be to fine them,” said Dr. K. Bruce Simmons, director of employee/student health.

St. Joseph’s Hospital is one of the hospitals which already had a smoke free policy on campus, but the new ordinance now allows St. Joseph’s to expand their enforcement area.

The hospitals can keep a strong enforcement on this new smoke-free ordinance. The new enforcement capabilities can help prevent any smoke from entering the hospitals (through doors, windows, vents), decrease the amount of second-hand smoke people receive around the hospitals, and help encourage people to cut back or quit smoking entirely.

The Onondaga County Sheriffs department will now play a critical role in helping to enforce this law, by aiding hospitals to enforce the restricted smoking areas. This means that law enforcement officials may not hesitate to present fines reinforcing the significance of the legislation that was passed.


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