Cambridge, MA...In keeping with its mission to improve the health of its communities, Harvard-affiliated public health care system Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) will be tobacco-free effective January 1, 2012. The initiative will apply to all of the properties owned and leased by CHA, including the Cambridge, Somerville, and Whidden Hospital campuses as well as CHA's network of primary and specialty care centers.
Tobacco use is a leading cause of lung disease and cancer, and, in an effort to reduce its impact, hospitals across the nation have become tobacco-free. According to the Massachusetts Hospital Association, more than half of the hospitals in the state are already tobacco-free, and others are expected to join in 2012.
CHA is committed to the promotion of quality health care, which includes the prevention of disease. With this commitment comes the responsibility of providing a safe and healthy environment for patients, visitors, and staff. Tobacco use of any kind will not be permitted on CHA's properties. This includes the removal of all designated smoking areas outside CHA facilities where patients, visitors, and employees currently use tobacco products.
"This is an important step to protect the health of our patients and provide a healthy environment for them and for those of us who work here," said Allison Bayer, CHA's Acting Chief Executive Officer. "While we recognize this may be a difficult transition for some patients and staff, the new policy reinforces our status as a national leader in community health promotion and shows local residents that we are serious about our commitment to their health."
To support staff members who would like to quit, CHA launched a comprehensive tobacco cessation program on November 17, the date of the Great American Smokeout. CHA also offers one-on-one smoking cessation counseling at four CHA health centers for patients as well as a weekly, six-session smoking cessation group that is free and open to any CHA patient. For more information, please call 617-591-6922.