As of January 1, 2018, Kemptville District Hospital (KDH) is entirely smoke-free – both inside the hospital and on its grounds – in compliance with provincial legislation. This means that patients, visitors and staff will have to leave hospital property if they want to smoke.
“For the past two years, we’ve been permitted under the legislation to have one outdoor designated smoking area,” said Lana LeClair, the hospital’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs. “We selected that option in order to ease the transition for patients and families who smoke, as well as for our staff. However, as an organization committed to building healthier communities, we support the smoke-free legislation as it fosters a healthy and safe environment for everyone at KDH.”
The legislation in question is the provincial government’s Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which prohibits smoking tobacco in all enclosed workplaces and enclosed public places, as well as other designated places in Ontario, to protect workers and the public from the hazards of second-hand smoke.
As Lana mentioned, hospitals and psychiatric facilities were permitted to create outdoor designated smoking areas for a limited time only; this provision of the legislation is revoked as of January 1, 2018, and the grounds of all Ontario hospitals and psychiatric facilities must be completely smoke-free by the first of the New Year. This includes any vehicles parking on hospital property.
“Our top priorities in complying with the legislation are supporting our patients and families and our staff through this change,” said Lana. “We are aware that for people who smoke, this is going to be really tough.”
To help patients, KDH will continue to offer the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation to all inpatients who smoke. The program, offered in partnership with the Ottawa Heart Institute, includes counselling, personalized support, and medication to help patients deal with nicotine withdrawal. Since 2006, the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation has helped approximately 400,000 smokers across Canada.
For families, visitors, and KDH staff who may be ready to cut back or quit smoking, KDH is providing information on smoking cessation supports that are available, both through the public health unit, through the Ottawa-based MyQuit program, and a wealth of other sources. Programs such as MyQuit (www.myquit.ca) that include support from trained smoking-cessation counsellors are proven to be significantly more effective than trying to quit on your own.
KDH’s Vice President of Nursing and Clinical Services, Cathy Burke, emphasized the benefits of quitting smoking, not only for the smoker, but for his or her family members, and the community as a whole. “There is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke,” she said. “Cigarette smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke put people at risk for many health problems, including cancer, and lung and heart disease. The Smoke-Free Ontario legislation helps us support and protect the health of our patients, staff, physicians, volunteers, and visitors by reducing everyone’s exposure to second-hand smoke and encouraging smokers to quit.”
To ensure that all staff, patients and visitors are aware of the complete smoking ban, KDH is installing signs at all entrances and exits as well as other high traffic locations.
The legislation will be enforced by the local public health unit, the Leeds Lanark and Grenville Health Unit. A person found to be smoking on hospital grounds, including in his or her vehicle, could be ticketed for smoking in a prohibited place and issued a fine of $305.
In addition, KDH has the responsibility as an employer to ensure that people comply with the provincial smoking regulations. Should it fail to fulfill this responsibility, the hospital itself could be ticketed and fined.