WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is making final preparations to go tobacco free on July 1.
This week the Medical Center disassembled all of its smoking areas. Over the past seven months, signs announcing the new policy were posted at every entrance and on tables in dining areas.
The Medical Center became “smoke-free” for all interior spaces in 1994. This new policy applies to all tobacco use and covers parking areas as well as vehicles on the property.
“This policy reinforces the high standard of service we give the community by providing quality health care in a tobacco-free environment,” said Bob Parker, vice president for home and community health.
The announcement was originally made to employees in October 2006. Since then, about 300 employees have taken advantage of the opportunity to quit tobacco through initiatives offered through the Medical Center, including counseling classes and support groups, free nicotine patches and discounted cessation drugs. Many of these resources were also extended to employees’ spouses.
“Most of us have experienced the devastation that tobacco-related diseases can have on families and friends,” said Parker. “This initiative may be the necessary catalyst for current smokers to quit as well as to prevent new smokers.”
“Wake Forest Baptist is a national leader in protecting people from exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Melva Fager Okun, Dr.P.H., “Healthy Hospital Initiative” manager for North Carolina Prevention Partners. “By passing a tobacco-free campus-wide policy, and increasing its support of people wanting to quit, the Medical Center is establishing a healthy environment for staff, patients, and all visitors, and motivating other hospitals, across the nation, to do likewise.”
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Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. The system comprises 1,154 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.