Tobey Hospital and all of Southcoast Health System now smoke-free

Jan 03, 2012

Out with the smoke, in with the new year!

Southcoast Health System became smoke and tobacco free on January 1.

The new policy prohibits smoking and the use of all tobacco products on all Southcoast properties and adjacent grounds, including all three Southcoast Hospitals sites - Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford, and Tobey Hospital in Wareham. The policy applies to all patients, visitors, employees and anyone providing or receiving services at a Southcoast facility.

"As the region's health care leader, its largest employer and a strong community member, Southcoast is committed to providing a safe, healthy environment for patients, employees and visitors and to serve as a model of health promotion in our communities," said Keith A. Hovan, President & CEO of Southcoast Health System and Southcoast Hospitals Group. "We have a significant responsibility to provide a safe, healthy and positive patient experience at Southcoast. By becoming smoke and tobacco free, we are furthering this goal while maintaining our community leadership role as the source for health, healing and education."

Tobacco use is universally recognized as a bad health habit that leads to negative health consequences. Smoking is the leading preventable reason for premature death and illness in the U.S. and is the leading contributor to heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, and emphysema. Smokers have increased gastrointestinal, prenatal, and orthopedic complications.

Patients who smoke have twice the risk of wound infection and are slower to heal after surgery or trauma. Smoking is the major cause of hospital admissions and re-admissions, according to a South Coast Health System press release.

The South Coast region has one of the highest incidences of smoking in Massachusetts, at 23 percent, compared to the state average of 15.8 percent, according to statistics from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Richard T. Miller, MD, a thoracic surgeon specializing in thoracic surgery and thoracic oncology, speaks with patients almost daily about the risks of smoking and the rewards of quitting.

"I tell my patients that deciding to quit is the single most important choice they can make that gives them complete control over their health," said Dr. Miller of Southcoast Thoracic Surgery, who practices at the three Southcoast hospitals. "Smoking is a conscious choice and there are consequences associated with making this choice. It is not a critique or a judgment. It is unhealthy - and if you stop now, you will decrease your chances for greater health risks in the future."

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