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Castleview announces tobacco-free policy at hospital

Castleview Hospital has announced plans to implement a new tobacco-free policy at all facilities effective January 1, 2012.

Hospital leaders say the new policy reflects the health system's mission: "We are eliminating tobacco-use on our properties to provide a healthy and safe environment for employees, patients, and visitors and to promote positive health behaviors," said Mark Holyoak, Chief Operations Officer at Castleview.

The new policy bans the use of all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco, within all properties owned, leased, or occupied by Castleview. This includes parking lots, hospital vehicles, and employees' personal vehicles parked on the premises. Employees are prohibited from using tobacco products during working hours.

The Surgeon General's Office in 1964 declared that smoking is hazardous to health. Yet smoking remains the number one cause of preventable death and disability, according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

Castleview Hospital views tobacco-use as a quality concern: "We can no longer turn a blind eye to on-campus smoking when we know that continued tobacco-use can cause problems for a patient," says Chief Operations Officer, Holyoak. "Smoking retards wound healing, increases infection rates in surgeries, and is the most common cause of poor birth outcomes."

Furthermore, three-fourths of all tobacco-users say they want to quit. Castleview recognizes the challenges of breaking the addiction to nicotine and respects an individual's quitting process. "We are not telling anyone, 'you must quit smoking," said Holyoak. "We are saying, 'Don't use tobacco at our hospital.' While you are a patient or visitor at this hospital, we can suggest ways to ease nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Castleview hopes hospital employees will help inform visitors and patients about the new policy, said Holyoak. "This will not be easy," he said, "but it's central to our continuing efforts to make an excellent place to work and to receive health care."

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