(Strathroy and Newbury, ON) – The Middlesex Hospital Alliance (MHA) has had a smoking policy in place for many years, whereby smoking had been banned within nine metres of any hospital entrance or exit.
Earlier this year MHA made the decision to migrate to a policy of going smoke-free throughout its entire premises, whereby smoking would no longer be permitted anywhere on the hospital’s property – inside or out – for all staff, patients and visitors.
There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. This change will help provide a safer, healthier and cleaner environment for everyone who works, learns, volunteers and receives care at MHA. According to Smoke Free Ontario, exposure to second-hand smoke causes about 425 deaths in Ontario annually. As a health care organization, it is important that MHA shows leadership and provides a healthy environment to everyone who comes to the hospital.
“As a leading healthcare provider, it is essential for the MHA to take a leading role in protecting anyone who comes to our sites from the harmful effects of second hand smoke. Going smoke-free sends a clear message to our communities that prevention is as important as treatment of illness, and that, as a healthcare organization, we are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment,” says Todd Stepanuik, President and Chief Executive Officer of the MHA.
The provincial government has recently filed regulations under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and the Electronic Cigarettes Act. These regulations come into force on January 1, 2016 and as of that date, these regulations ban smoking on all hospital grounds in Ontario, unless temporary designated smoking areas are identified on the premises. Hospitals electing to designate such areas would then be be afforded a maximum two year extension deadline (to January 1, 2018) to fully comply with the regulations.
Moving forward, the MHA will establish temporary designated smoking areas for a 6 month transition period. The premise for such is in order to achieve full compliance and to ensure that the operational and logistical implementation of these legislative changes such as staff training, smoking cessation programs for patients, and communication tools can be put in place.
What this means for hospital patients and visitors effective January 1, 2016:
- Individuals can no longer smoke on either hospital property or in vehicles. However, smoking will be allowed until June of 2016 in the newly established designated smoking areas.
- Supports are in place for patients and staff who want to make an attempt to quit. This support includes increased access to smoking cessation opportunities such as nicotine replacement therapy.
As we move forward in the coming months with this implementation, we will provide further updates to the communities we serve.
We thank you for your co-operation in maintaining a healthy environment for everyone.