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Most Hospitals Smoke Free by the End of '09

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 20, 2009

The majority of the nation's hospitals will be smoke-free campuses by the end of 2009, according to a new report from The Joint Commission.

The study—The Adoption of Smoke-Free Hospital Campuses in the United States—is the first to examine the national prevalence of smoke-free hospital campus policies.

The study cited 2008 reports that 45% of hospitals reported having smoke-free campuses, and that another 15% said they would be implementing similar policies in the near future.

"Hence, it is safe to assume on the basis of these results that the majority of US hospitals will have smoke-free campuses by the end of 2009," says Scott C. Williams, director of the Commission's Center for Public Policy and Research.

The 2008 data show that not-for-profit hospitals were more likely to have smoke-free campuses than for-profit hospitals. The 2008 data also show that hospitals in Arkansas, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Wisconsin had among the highest proportion of smoke-free campuses. Hospitals in several tobacco states also had a significant proportion of smoke-free campuses.

In 1992, The Joint Commission implemented a standard which required hospitals to adopt a campus-wide non-smoking policy, limiting smoking to separate, ventilated areas. "At that time, fewer than 3% of hospitals extended this indoor smoking ban to include the entire hospital campus, both indoors and outdoors," Williams says. "Our study shows that around 2004-2005 this began to change dramatically. Now a majority of the nation's hospitals do not allow smoking anywhere on their property."

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