Archived Story

SMH campus going tobacco-free

Published 11:09am Saturday, September 29, 2012

FRANKLIN—Lisa Rickmond may have found a way to quit smoking.

A registered nurse at Southampton Memorial Hospital, Rickmond will have to leave the grounds to smoke when the hospital campus goes tobacco-free on Nov. 8.

“I’m leaning toward trying to quit,” the 49-year-old Franklin woman said. “It’s about time. I’ve smoked since I was 13.”

The ban means visitors and employees can no longer light up on the grounds, which includes the parking lots that serve the hospital, four medical offices and East Pavilion nursing home, said Anne Williams, director of marketing.

Smoking is already prohibited inside all buildings.

The ban also will include the areas of Courtland Medical Center and Total Family Care next to Belk department store off Armory Drive in Franklin.

To help the estimated 10 percent of the hospital’s 425 employees who smoke, a free smoking-cessation program will be offered to them and their families, Williams said.

Rickmond plans to participate.

“I plan to take advantage of every tool,” she said. “Being a long-term smoker, I know it’s going to be a challenge.”

An April study labeling Franklin as one of the least healthy localities in Virginia inspired the ban, Williams said.

The study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute ranked Franklin 127th out of 131 cities and counties in health outcomes. The results were attributed to high unemployment and poverty rates.

The study indicated that 22 percent of Franklin residents smoke, which is 3 percentage points higher than the state average.

“It makes sense for us to be the leader in a community to make people healthier,” Williams said. “We are the health care provider of the community.”

The hospital will provide free nicotine patches to employees and tobacco-cessation counselors.

Nicotine gum and lozenges will be offered to visitors and employees, she said.

Employees currently smoke in their cars, parking lots and outside the hospital where benches and ashtrays are provided, Williams said.

Rickmond, the clinical coordinator for the medical surgical floor, goes to her car to smoke for privacy.

“Smoking has always been kind of a conflict for me personally,” she said. “I’m a pretty open considerate smoker, but you want to live what you teach.”

“I’ve smoked for a lot of years and don’t get the same enjoyment,” Rickmond continued said. “It’s very expensive and I’m in the minority now. My lifestyle is leaning toward healthier choices, exercise and diet.”

“(If they want to smoke) they will have to be off our property,” Williams said. “Certainly, we discourage them to walk to the street or stand on someone else’s property. We are really trying to encourage our staff to take this opportunity to become healthier and give them the tools they need to quit smoking.”

“We are not trying to penalize our smokers or our staff,” she added.

“That’s a personal choice.”

Hospital Smoking Ban

* Visitors and employees will have to leave the grounds of Southampton Memorial Hospital to smoke when the hospital campus goes tobacco-free on Nov. 8.

* The affected areas include the parking lots that serve the hospital, four medical offices and East Pavilion nursing home, according to officials.

* Smoking is already prohibited inside all buildings.

* The ban also will include the areas of Courtland Medical Center and Total Family Care next to Belk department store off Armory Drive in Franklin.

* Hospital employees who smoke will be offered a free smoking-cessation program for them and their families

  • independent

    PS….a business may not monitor what someone eats, but could offer bonuses for weight loss, rewards for participating in classes at the YMCA, or even offer onsite workout sessions. Get ready……it’s coming. Health care costs will drive all kinds of innovation, especially if businesses have to shoulder more and more of the burden of costs.

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  • independent

    Businesses bear the brunt of health cost today through employee benefits. As those costs escalate, businesses will do more and more to encourage healthy living. Yes, that will include incentives to exercise, eat healthy foods, and quit smoking. When a 55 year old’s total premium for 80/20 coverage is $12,000 per year, and the business pays the majority of it, an employee’s personal liberty may very well take a back seat. Second hand smoke? In my opinion no one has the right to inflict it upon anyone else, now that we know just how damaging it is.

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  • got3ofum

    Makalani, i think thats up to them to figure out. Point is smoking is no less healthy than maintaining obesity. And as for “who does it harm but the smoker?” Really? Read your newspaper once in a while. The overall cost for health problems related to obesity is TWICE what it is for smoking related health problems per year. Thats because smoking is on the decline and obesity is an epidemic. I would never argue that smoking should be condoned, but it serves no purpose to single them out.

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  • Makalani

    @got3ofum — RE: “the article says nothing about second-hand smoke or the health hazards of second hand smoke.”

    You are 10,000% correct. My rebuttal to your POV strictly related to the article is faulty! Nowhere is second-hand smoke mentioned. I stand corrected and apologize!

    Agreeing with your POV — if SMH should apply the same logic “to those who are obese and choose to continue to harm themselves by maintaining an unhealth[y] weight” — SMH should ban eating on the job by obese employees — similar to the smoking ban.

    Again — agreeing with your logic — how would SMH enforce a ban on stealth eating by obese employees as foods don’t have the tell-tale clouds of stinking smoke that would give away sneaky smokers?

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  • happycamper

    Full Disclosure:
    I smoked off and on for many years. I quit for good nearly 20 years ago. While I know that second hand smoke can be harmful to me, I must admit … when I see someone light up (which isn’t often in my circle of friends), I make a bee line to get a whiff!

    I’m often asked, “How long did it take you to get over wanting a cigarette?” Well, the answer is obvious! I’m not over it yet … after almost 20 years!! And there are those who say smoking isn’t an addiction!

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  • FromHere

    AND, in reference to the allergies to smoke, I totally understand. BUT there should be a law against soaking overnight (that what is smells like) in cologne or perfume. Not to mention it is sickening to smell, but a lot of people are allergic to that too. I spend half my time in Walmart ducking people I don’t even know because of their smell.

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  • got3ofum

    the article says nothing about second hand smoke or the health hazards of second hand smoke. the point, as stated in the article, is to emphasize the health of their employees and customers who smoke. i stand by my previous post, if smokers cannot smoke on the premises due to health concerns and the image it portrays of the employees who choose to smoke, then the same logic should apply to those who are obese and choose to continue to harm themselves by maintaining an unhealth weight.

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  • Makalani

    @My Hometown — RE: “…ride behind another car where there is someone smoking and it will stop up my sinuses.”

    There is no discounting yours and others’ — not to mention many childrens’ — sensitivity to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke tightens my chest like a vise. As I get older — the effects get worse!

    Even with that — I still believe in people’s personal freedom/choice to smoke. But it’s hard to get many smokers to voluntarily stop polluting other people’s air.

    As you point out — there are many logical — practical reasons for not smoking. But nicotine addicts have just as many illogical reasons to smoke. It’s doubtful if Lisa Rickmond — a self-confessed 36-year-nicotine addict would have the incentive to stop before SMH’s ban and cessation program. Let’s wish her luck and hope that others see the light (no pun intended)!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  • MyHometown

    I have to agree with you Makalani. Someones cheeseburger has never caused my allergies to flare up. I can ride behind another car where there is someone smoking and it will stop up my sinuses. Going outside doesn’t solve the problem. Way to go SMH.

    The other side of this issue is work breaks. Every time someone steps outside to smoke they are not at their work station. Who is taking care of the patients, billing, and managing emergency phone calls? The non-smokers have to shoulder the extra work. Now if they want to smoke they have to leave the premises. Maybe now they will be disciplined when they are “nowhere to be found”.

    This country would be money ahead to subsidize the tobacco industry until they can find another source of income than to continue to pay the high cost of health care. Anything that addictive can’t be good for you.

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  • Makalani

    RE: “…health care professionals should be banned from eating foods that contribute to their obesity.”

    Other than having an addiction — to Big Macs/food — healthcare professionals cannot be compared to nicotine-addicts/smokers. Obesity is a self-inflicted health hazard that does not directly effect the health of others! Whereas non-smokers’ health is directly effected by secondhand smoke inflicted on them!

    The American Cancer Society estimates that 3400 non-smokers die annually from secondhand smoke (www.cancer.org). Let’s say that figure is exaggerated for money-raising purposes and it’s only 400. Lol That’s approx. one non-smoker a day dying from smokers’ inability to quit a costly — nasty — unhealthy habit.

    People should have the right to poison their bodies with the chemicals in cigarettes but not to poison others’ bodies. SMH’s smoking ban is long overdue!

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  • ChubRobin

    My company does a lot of construction work at hospitals. More and more of them are taking this route, but banning smoking at a store front next to Belk? Now you’re talking CRAZY! WTF!

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    • Curiousreader

      It’s not a store, it’s a doctor’s office owned by the hospital.

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  • Makalani

    The Declaration of Independence endowed Americans with certain inalienable rights — “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It didn’t give us the inalienable right “to pursue death by smoking!” lol

    Seriously — as a private business — SMH has every right to make and enforce rules regarding the use of its properties. Employees who don’t like the policy can quit. Nicotine-addicted people who can’t forego a fix long enough to visit can “phone it in!”

    Perhaps for nicotine-addicted employees wanting to quit but haven’t/can’t — these disincentives to smoke and incentives to quit will give them the incentives/tools to quit! We non-smokers will be rooting for them!

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  • got3ofum

    Smoking not allowed on hospital grounds because its bad for you and as health professionals, they should try and set an example. So using the same logic, obese health care professionals should be banned from eating foods that contribute to their obesity.

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  • shocked

    As a non-smoker, I do become upset when I have to walk through ” clouds” of smoke when entering the hospital because someone is having a smoke break near the front entrance! On the other hand, not allowing smoking in one’s personal vehicle is a bit much-fortunately, this is America and smokers have choices…find another job, drive off-campus to smoke, utilize another hospital, or make the healthier choice and take advantage of the FREE programs offered to help stop smoking!!!

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  • happy2

    boomercitizen, the same goes for you! If you are a health care professional, practice what you are!

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  • happy2

    Sinoptik, really, fast food is crap anyway. When you are a HEALTH CARE professional you need to have a healthy lifestyle!

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    • Sinoptik

      I know it is, I never touch the stuff, the point was the American mentality of making choices for people.

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  • boomercitizen

    Wonder when they will kick all the obese people, alcoholics drug addicts off campus.? Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like smoking but I view it as a personal choice and right much like all other personal decisions. This policy takes things a bit too far.

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  • Sinoptik

    I wonder when they’ll stop anyone from bringing a bag of fast food cheeseburgers near the place.

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