Local hospitals to snuff out smoking

Don’t go to the hospital smelling like smoke beginning New Year’s Day in Newnan and May 21 in Fayetteville. And don’t try to grab a quick smoke outside the building, or even in your vehicle coming into the hospitals’ parking lot.

The two Piedmont hospitals in Fayette and Coweta counties plan in 2012 to snuff out not just smoking by visitors and employees anywhere on Piedmont property. By the middle of next year, Piedmont Fayette and Piedmont Newnan hospitals will ban even the odor of tobacco smoke on employees’ clothing or persons.

“Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, Piedmont Newnan Hospital will join hospitals across the state and around the country in prohibiting all tobacco use on hospital property,” a news release from the two hospitals said Monday. “Piedmont Fayette Hospital will become completely tobacco free May 21, 2012.”

“Smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, and second hand smoke, in particular, places our patients at risk,” said Jeffrey R. Folk, M.D., vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer for Piedmont Newnan Hospital.

“As a healthcare leader, it is our responsibility to provide excellence in patient care, maintain a safe, healing environment and promote healthy lifestyles. We believe maintaining a tobacco free campus is the right thing to do for everyone involved in that process,” Folk said.

The new policy prohibits the use of any tobacco products inside or outside any Piedmont Newnan Hospital or Piedmont Fayette Hospital location, according to the news release.

“The policy applies to all employees, physicians, patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors and vendors while they are on property. This includes all buildings, entrances, walkways, grounds, parking lots and in vehicles parked anywhere on Piedmont property,” the news release said.

“In addition, the odor of tobacco smoke and other smokeless tobacco products must not be detectable on any physician, employee or volunteer at any time,” the news release said.

“While we hope our new policy will encourage both patients and visitors to stop using tobacco products, it not our intent to dictate what they choose to do with respect to using tobacco products when not on our property,” said Fred Willms, M.D., vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer for Piedmont Fayette Hospital.

“Our tobacco-free campus policy simply means individuals may not use tobacco products on Piedmont Newnan Hospital or Piedmont Fayette Hospital property. We also understand that tobacco cessation can be a difficult challenge for many, and so both hospitals have teamed up to provide tobacco cessation information and classes in support of those who want to quit.”

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and Piedmont Newnan Hospital and Piedmont Fayette Hospital are teaming up to announce the adoption of the new tobacco-free campus policy.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity to provide information and education about a disease that kills more Americans than any other cancer, the news release said.

According to Lung Cancer Alliance-Georgia, lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer death among men and women in Georgia. This year alone, 6,150 Georgians will be diagnosed and 4,660 will die from the disease, accounting for 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the state.

More than 1.4 million adults in metro Atlanta smoke cigarettes and the Georgia Department of Public Health attributes one out of every six deaths, or more than 10,300 adult Georgians, to tobacco-related diseases. In addition, approximately $1.8 billion in healthcare costs among adults aged 18 years and older are attributed to tobacco use.

Tobacco cessation classes are currently offered at both hospital locations. For more information, visit piedmontnewnan.org, piedmontfayette.org or register by calling call Link2Health at 1-866-900-4321. Additional tobacco cessation information is available by calling the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line (1-877-270-7867) or by visiting the Live Healthy Georgia website at livehealthygeorgia.com.