The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2002 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

“SMOKE FREE” POLICIES: AN INTERNET SURVEY OF SMOKING POLICIES IN ACADEMIC CHILDREN’S MEDICAL CENTERS IN THE UNITED STATES

Ryan E. Grueber, BS, RRT, Andrew W. McKibben, MD, Karl J. Orscheln, MD, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO, USA

Introduction: Data demonstrating both health effects and popular demand has resulted in increasing restriction of exposure to tobacco smoke. Many health care institutions in the United States frequently describe the environment provided for patients and employees as “Smoke-Free” We investigated the concrete criteria of these policies in a survey of academic medical centers in the United States.

Methods: Data was obtained from policy and procedure manuals available on-line and by individual responses elicited through established health care list-servers. We defined a smoke free facility as one, which allowed no smoking by patients or employees anywhere in the health care site, including the grounds outside of the facility. We defined a self-described smoke free center as a center that used the term, “Smoke Free” in their institutional smoking policy. To be eligible for inclusion as an academic center the facility had to be listed in the AAMC Medical Education Geographical Listing of Medical Schools. Mental health institutions were excluded.

Results:

Number of facilities included > 20
Self Described as Smoke Free > 60%
Smoking Allowed in Designated Area > 85%
Totally Smoke Free > 15%

Discussion: In developed countries, smoking is the most preventable health risk known and is an important cause of premature death worldwide. U.S. Academic health centers are the world leaders in health care initiatives. Data has shown that employers that eliminate work place smoking have seen an increase in employee smoking cessation rates.

Conclusions: While a majority of surveyed institutions describe themselves as “Smoke-Free,” only a minority of centers forbids smoking completely. While some institutions appear to contemplate not permitting smoking for patients or visitors, certain exceptions, such as allowing smoking outside on hospital grounds may be driven by demands of employees or other considerations. Further education and efforts to promote smoking cessation appear needed based on the results of this preliminary survey. This study is a small example of the potential of the Internet as a tool for academic research.

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