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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, 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



PTC Observer's picture

“Smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States..."

And I thought it was overeating.

We should next make certain that we ban all overweight people from entering the hospital, unless they are dead of course.

and over-exposure to sun causes skin cancer, so no one with a tan allowed.

According to the latest statistics, obesity ranks #2 as the leading cause of preventable death in the USA.

The Centers For Disease Control confirms what Mr. Folk says:

"Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Despite these risks, approximately 46.6 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal, and oral cancers.

The harmful effects of smoking do not end with the smoker. An estimated 88 million nonsmoking Americans, including 54% of children aged 3–11 years, are exposed to secondhand smoke. Even brief exposure can be dangerous because nonsmokers inhale many of the same poisons in cigarette smoke as smokers.

Secondhand smoke exposure causes serious disease and death, including heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks in children. Each year, primarily because of exposure to secondhand smoke, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer, more than 46,000 die of heart disease, and about 150,000–300,000 children younger than 18 months have lower respiratory tract infections.

Coupled with this enormous health toll is the significant economic burden of tobacco use—more than $96 billion a year in medical costs and another $97 billion a year from lost productivity."

I think the key word here is "preventable". Yes the obesity rate in this country is embarrassing and certainly a leading cause of early death. But, while everybody HAS to eat, nobody HAS to smoke.

I am all for this ban. And in fact I cannot understand why the government continues to subsidize farmers to grow tobacco given the cost to society.

And madmike, I'm going to assume your comment was a joke....a bad one but a joke never the less. However, go spend some time in a pediatric ward where kids are battling emphysemia and lung cancer as a result of second hand smoke from their parents tobacco use. I think you might find it's not a joking issue.

The Wedge's picture

[quote=borntorun] However, go spend some time in a pediatric ward where kids are battling emphysemia and lung cancer as a result of second hand smoke from their parents tobacco use. I think you might find it's not a joking issue.[/quote]
I had a friend (a school teacher) that died of lung cancer that was not attributed to any smoking (not first or second hand). Not all lung cancer is smoking related. So I am curious as I have been in pediatric wards and have never seen an emphysemiatic child. How many are there that can be attributed to second hand smoke?

Okay, I understand the toothbrush in the trick-or-treat bag (although I don't believe any dentists live in our lowbrow Center Green subdivision); but all the candy with Japanese/Chinese writing? Who's going to eat this if it's not understood what it is or where it came from?

If you are running a business and you can make/enforce a policy like this then you don't have enough competition.

PTC Observer's picture

no, it has nothing to do with competition it has to do with the new Affordable Health Care Act, aka Obamacare. The hospital is getting ready for enforcement of certain provisions to be determined by the new "Council". They will set standards for prevention, it is likely that it will evolve into if you don't behave in a certain way about eating, smoking, etc., then hypothetically you will be either denied health care or government storm troopers will swoop down on you and wire you mouth shut. If they can force you to buy health care then I suppose they can force you to act in a certain way as far as lifestyle is concerned. At least it seems logical to me that this will be the ultimate outcome.

Here's a link you may not enjoy reading:

Pages 1119, 1120, 1121

Just remember it's for your own good and the good of the State. ;-)


Gort's picture

to open a satellite campus just for smokers. The floor level lobby could have a large fire pit that can be used as a communal ashtray and a giant chimney on top to let the smoke out.

It could look something like this. 8 - )

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.

G35 Dude's picture

[quote]Smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States..."

And I thought it was overeating.

We should next make certain that we ban all overweight people from entering the hospital, unless they are dead of course.[/quote]

If you overeat you are only hurting yourself. That is your choice. If you smoke and I'm in the vincenty you're hurting me too. That is when I have the right to restrict your perceived right to smoke. If it's your home you can choose to do as you wish. I don't have to go there. But a hospital is a different case.

Now having said all of that I don't think a person should be denied health care because the odor is still on the clothes. That is taking things a bit too far.

The smell test only applies to employees. No where does it say you will be denied Health care if you smoke. But as others have said it may come to that one day.

kcchiefandy's picture

...but I'd like to see the hospital's policy if the employee, et al, smokes at home, or in their car, comes to work, smells of smoke; what then? They get sent home? Written up & fired if done too many times? Talk about discriminatory! I'm sure we've all been around those we'd 'fire' just for what they smell like - self-induced or not! There's a couple of stores around here that I won't go into for the stench; what if I came to work at the hospital smelling of those places?

I didn't think the article was very clear on whether the "smell test" portion of this policy applied to patients or not. With employees I do agree with it and I do not understand how it could be considered discriminatory. Last time I checked smokers were not listed as a constitutionally protected group of people. This is a right to work state. If it's my company and I have an employee or group of employees who are running off customers because of their personal choices/habits whether it be smoke smell, purple hair, visible tattoos etc, they can either fix it or their gone.

I read the full article and it doesn't apply to patients in the extent of how they smell. They, and visitors, just can't smoke on the property. You are right that Smokers are not a protected class, and they can make any rules they want.
My question is in terms of enforcement. Will they hire an official sniffer? Sounds like a fun job.

Good one Madmike.

I predict the next move will be to have the FCSD's K-9s doing extra duty sniffing out smokers! And do you think those who dreamed up these regulations will run for office in PTC next election round?

a moonlighting job to supplement? Or does being a sniffer just appeal to you? Bet it is the latter. You would probably be great at it, just look at how you have 'sniffed' out all the problems in PTC. You da Man!

Definitely the latter. I would do it on a volunteer basis. But that is the kind of guy I am. A Community Leader, sort of like Obama, your hero.

you finally found spell-check), and your comprehension is even worse. I would really like for you to point out to me where I have ever written anything that could in any way make you believe I am an Obama supporter. You couldn't be any farther off base--but hey, that is your usual position--so no surprise.

to keep all us straight! I just thought the fact that, despite not living anywhere close to Zac Brown, your leading of the peace negotiations for that neighborhood made you a "Community Leader." Obama's experience for the Presidency was having been a "Community Leader." I put two and two together.
Sorry for the mistake.
Now get back to work on your neighborhood endeavors. We have work to be done! Who knows, maybe you too can use this experience to run for President!
I'd vote for you!

count either. Only you and three year olds could add two and two together and come up with the wrong answer and I am not too sure about some of those three year olds.

Who told you I did not live near the proposed summer camp? Have you been spying again or just assuming? You know what they say about assuming? Well, that is true at least for you. As for running for President, or any other office, I leave all things politic to you--you seem to be the authority on that--or so you think--but then again maybe thinking should be added to the long list of things you have been unable to accomplish. You should fill out that application for sniffer--I am sure you could work up to head sniffer in no time. That may be where you true calling lies.

kcchiefandy's picture

...your perfume/cologne is repulsive. You're fired for violating our 'proper scent' policy. Don't ask how we decided it was, we just did.

So patients were being run off at these hospitals? I missed that in the article. I know if I was having an acute appendicitis, I'd definitely shop around for a hospital with proper smelling employees!

Getting fired over your perfume would suck but it's not illegal in Georgia. The only way it would be considered discrimination is if it you could prove that you "scent" was actually code for "you're the wrong race, religion, gender or age".

On the patient comment I was just stating that the parient wasn't very clear. I wasn't disagreeing on that point.

kcchiefandy's picture

'Getting fired over your perfume would suck but it's not illegal in Georgia. The only way it would be considered discrimination is if it you could prove that you "scent" was actually code for "you're the wrong race, religion, gender or age".'

Sounds like a good way to manage the workforce. With no definition of 'the scent' or 'smokiness level', sounds like an easy way to get rid of someone, or some race, or religion, etc... To cover yourself, you'd just have to terminate 1 or 2 others not in 'that' group. Its a stupid policy, IMHO, and only subjectively enforceable. I hope they don't have other such policies for their employees. And they are discriminating; 'you're a <smoker>, we don't want your kind here. We think you smell bad.' You could substitute just about any other group, race, religion, etc...for the word 'smoker' and it would most definitely be considered discrimination.

I like the food but smell like I smoked a half a pack after visiting those establishments. I must add Big Daddy's solved that issue by putting the family restaurant on one side.

True Kc, a policy could lead to abuses where an employer could discriminate against any protected class. As I see it there are two main obstacles first the legality of it and second the social side of it. Both obstacles could be overcome. Through setting up some procedures and definitions you could enforce this legally. The trickier obstacle would be the social part. Because it's not enough to just cover your rear end on the discrimination side. Measures would need to be taken to ensure that managers do not use this policy to get rid of certain classes of people. I have no idea what those measures would be. However, I believe this policy is a good idea. It's not stupid. It is stupid however, to give up on a goal because it has obstacles.

While they are at it, the hospitals should also pass a rule restricting employees from passing gas in the building. Quite frankly, I would rather smell cigarette smoke than knowing that the nurse had a burrito for lunch. But that's just me.

So…gone are the good ole days when the expectant father paced the hospital waiting room smoking pack after pack!

Seriously, if the hospitals choose to discriminate against their customers, then they should join the ranks of the governments and just go all out to tell us what to do and how to live.

It seems to me that the hospital is there for sick people, whether they have “unhealthy” lifestyles or not. Where does this end? I’ve been to the hospital emergency room and smoking should be the least of their concerns. People roll around on the floor because they’ve overdosed on the legal prescription medications they were encouraged to take. There are many cases of alcohol breath and people who are obviously a little tipsy, or on something. Have you ever noticed how many fat people come and go from hospitals? This includes not only patients and visitors, but staff as well. Are they eventually going to check the nutrition and exercise regimes of these customers? The hospital actually promotes unhealthy eating by selling soft drinks and potato chips. There are some pretty rank people sitting around also. Will there be new rules that say you have to have had a shower and been deodorized within an hour before coming to the hospital?

Rather than worry about the customers’ habits, they should find a way to treat emergency room patients (smokers or not) in less than ten hours and not promote anxiety of potential customers who are afraid to seek medical attention because their clothes might smell like tobacco. What if you’re a smoker and come in severely injured from an accident? No treatment for you, buddy – just die. You were on your way out anyway.

As far as I’m concerned, the hospital’s role is to serve and treat people who have medical problems. They have no right to tell individuals what they can or cannot wear, eat, drink or smoke. Besides all that “unhealthy” smoking surely brings them in more business and must be a great profit producer.

Some people smoke. Some people overeat. Some people take too many drugs, legal or otherwise. Some people sweat too much. Some people stink and a lot of people are just obnoxious. Is it really the hospital’s place to discriminate against certain human frailities, or is it there job to offer medical services to all people when needed?

secret squirrel's picture

Your right to smoke ends at the nose of those around you who don't. Unlike eating, drinking, or wearing bad clothing, smoke permeates the air and travels into the bodies of those who do not smoke. So since smokers cannot respect others' rights, the government steps in to ensure personal freedoms for all. They're not saying you can't smoke. They're only regulating where and protecting the personal rights of those who don't.

The Wedge's picture

is that there are many offense odors coming from people, only a small portion of that can be attributed to cigarette smoke. Can they regulate poor personal hygiene, or will that be considered to be discriminatory (for whatever reason-social, economic, etc)?

Mike King's picture

As a reformed smoker, I would have to admit that the odor and actual hazards associated with those who smoke do infringe upon the rights of others. Somehow, though, the outright refusal to treat someone with an odor of cigarette smoke appears poorly thought out and a knee jerk reaction. It makes me think of that government agency who wanted to tax dairy farmers based upon the methane emissions of cows.

kcchiefandy's picture

...fart in public, either, right? And don't drive by me in your car; those emissions go into my body. And if you're too close to me, God-knows-whats-in-your-stinking breath goes into my body. We need to regulate all this, too. Maybe a new Federal Department of Body Security?

Smokers have smoking areas in most places, esp. public buildings & areas. Stop demonizing them. I spent 18 yrs. in a house w/ 2 smokers; 32 yrs. later I don't have 'second-hand cancer', and am perfectly healthy. You want to protect personal rights? Require ALL current GA residents to take a drivers education ENGLISH! A heck of a lot more people have died from ignorant drivers here than second hand smoke!

What bothers me about this is that our rights are being taken away. If people want to smoke let them. What's next, if you smell like french fries,hamburgers, or maybe beer you can't enter. This is about much more than smelling like smoke.

BHH's picture

other than the scorn of non-smokers.

It's just another incentive to quit smoking and not so much an infringement on anyone's rights.


And I see that some consider this a government infringement on their rights. If I believed that, most of you know that I would be the first bull to bellow as I am sick of government intrusion in every aspect of our lives.
This however, doesn't qualify. This is a case where an employer (Hospital) has the right to determine what kind of employees (non-smokers) he wants representing his company. It has nothing to do with discrimination under the constitution (or how it has been construed) because smokers are not part of a protected class (I think there are six now, who can name them?)
Just like being able to lift 50 pounds to work for UPS is not discrimination nor is not hiring flight attendants who are too fat to walk down the aisle of an airplane (although I have seen some that push that requirement).
I like that employers have that freedom, as Georgia is a right-to-work state which reduces the presence of unions here and that is something that most of the "less-government" folks, like myself, support. Medical staff have a choice... quit smoking or find another place to work. It ain't fair, but it ain't discrimination.

The tricky part with this policy is the enforcement. It would be very easy for a "protected person" to make a case claiming that others smelled like smoke and therefor this policy is just a smoke screen for discrimination. When that day comes you better have a clear and definitive process to show how you decided on which employees to fire or reprimand.

Currently, the some employers at the hospital are preemptively enforcing this by requiring a tobacco test. For current employees I imagine enforcement will probably mirror current drug enforcement.

I can only think of five off the top of my head. Race, religion, gender, disability and age. Sexual orientation hasn't been added yet.

National Origin is the other one (I had to look it up). Age, only over 40. Good job! You get an A-

kcchiefandy's picture's not technically illegal, but it is discrimination. The UPS example is good, just as being in the military requires certain physical abilities, but that's apples-to-oranges compared to this. Smoking has nothing to do with medical or hospital employees being capable to complete their duties. IMHO, it's a stupid policy; if I'm having an acute appendicitis I could care less what my hospital staff smells like. I could see termination for this reason making its way to the courts. It's akin to, say, I find obese people disgusting and they're repulsive to look at, so my company will terminate those who look to us to be unsightly. They will be notified and given 2 months to come into line with our policy or they are terminated.

Perhaps smokers should become a protected class



Actually KC, smoking and obesity do affect a medical professional’s ability to perform their duties.

First, let's say you have a heart attack. Once you're are stable your doctor tells you that you're 200lbs overweight and you need to quit smoking. How seriously are you going to take that guy if he is also 200lbs overweight and reeks of tobacco smoke?

Second, you are only focusing on the emergency side of the hospital where people do not always have a choice on where they go. On the non-emergency side people do have a choice. If given a choice where would you choose, the place with happy, healthy employees or the place with fat, unhealthy employees who smell bad?

Being obese and being a smoker are choices. I understand that overcoming those obstacles is extremely difficult but every day a person chooses to not quit, exercise or go on a diet they make a choice. That choice should be their responsibility. As an employer it should not be my responsibility to bear the burdens of my employee’s poor personal decisions.

kcchiefandy's picture

I understand the non-emergency choice, but again I highly doubt many will care one way or another. Watch out though, by saying being obese is a 'choice'! There's a lot of people out there (and some science) that says - like being homosexual - that it's mainly genetic, or at least they're predisposed to it! As for my medical choice, I'd go where I received the best care; whether the employee is fat or smells of smoke means little to me. Sure, I'd like them to be 'perfect', but I'm not and don't expect it from others.

I am not saying that I expect perfection but I do think that people should be responsible for their own choices. If you choose to get fat or smoke to a point where it hurts your ability to find or maintain employment that is on you. Likewise, if a company were to actually implement a policy like this and then the company failed either through bad press or a resultant lack of quality employees, then that would be on them.

On the genetics side of things, I agree that people are predisposed to certain things. However, even with genetics though we have a choice. We can choose to get up a little earlier in the morning and go for a walk. Or, we can choose to go to McDonald's and just tell ourselves "we were born this way".

First of all, how did you guys lose to Denver with only two passes thrown? Gee.
Good distinction on job performance ability. And you are right, taking to its furthest degree, people could be denied employment or fired for just about any weird hang-up that a company owner might have.
The other end of the spectrum bothers me too though. Look at the teachers unions for instance. I was reading an article about the teachers in the Atlanta Public School System and it takes an act of Congress to fire a teacher even if their performance is horrible. The Unions protect them and there is a such a cumbersome and lengthy process to remove anyone, it is not worth the time or money.
I guess somewhere between being able to fire people because of the way they smell (in the hospital case) and not being able to fire someone for almost any reason (APCS) lies the fairness line. My vote would lean towards employers having the right to hire and fire as they please, rather than the government stepping in and creating the rules.
I think this smoking thing at the hospitals is silly and as MTHOM points out, how do you enforce that?

kcchiefandy's picture

...we started the season with SUCH hope! Then Jamaal Charles & Eric Berry (Creekside alum!) went down; I NEVER had hope in Cassell as QB. One great back-up season in NE (with an outstanding cast!) and he's now a golden boy?! I feel like a Cubs fan! Anyway, you said it - unions. Looks like smokers are going to have to form one!

Oh, and we get to go to New England Sunday...yea... :(

I like the Chiefs and hate Denver. My Dad used to follow them back in the Hank Stramm days. What a coach. I remember how tough they were at home then... they never lost Monday Night Games, the crowds would not let that happen. Denver, all I remember is them losing consecutive Superbowls and horse-teeth Elway. I never liked them.
Let me know when you form that union... I'll join.

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