"Beginning Aug. 1, 2012, Missouri Delta Medical Center will adopt a tobacco-free campus as a health and wellness initiative," said Jason Schrumpf, president of Missouri Delta. "This policy is designed to preserve the health of our employees, patients, visitors and volunteers along with fulfilling the hospital's mission of promoting the general health of our community."
Smoking is a health and safety hazard both to tobacco users and nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke, carrying very serious health risks, Schrumpf said.
He noted tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. and that Missouri ranks third in adult smoking rates in the nation. Nearly 10,000 Missourians die from tobacco-related illnesses ever year. Annual health costs from tobacco use are estimated at $1.96 billion statewide with the lost productivity estimated at $2.34 billion.
"Hospitals in our region and across the state are working to decrease such statistics," said Sharon Urhahn, director of marketing for MDMC. "Going tobacco-free is a growing trend among hospitals nationwide."
In an effort to be sensitive to the difficulty of quitting tobacco due to the addictive nature of nicotine, MDMC is providing ample time for people to prepare for the change. Hospital staff were notified at the beginning of the month that the policy would go into effect this year.
"We're doing a lot of education for our employees, providing a lot of resources for them to help them either quit smoking or learn to cope with not smoking while at work," Urhahn said. "It's going to be a gradual process."
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