June 30, 2004

Smoke-Free Grounds Policy Phased in Starting Monday

Admitted Patients who smoke will be offered Nicotine Replacement Therapy during Hospitalization.

The grounds of Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface General Hospital and Deer Lodge Centre will be smoke-free starting Monday, July 5th. Smoking will be prohibited on all facility grounds including: entranceways, sidewalks, driveways, green spaces, parking lots and parkades. Signs are being posted to let patients, visitors and staff know about the policy.

This first step towards phasing-in smoke-free grounds is part of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's Smoke-Free Policy. The policy applies to hospitals, long-term care facilities and community sites such as ACCESS River East. Implementation dates will vary by facility but it is expected that all health care sites will have smoke-free grounds within a year.

"This is the next logical step in enhancing healthy environments for patients, staff and the public," Dr. Sande Harlos, WRHA Medical Officer of Health, said. "It means patients, staff and visitors will no longer have to walk through a wall of smoke to enter these facilities."

Admitted patients who are smokers can now also ask their doctor for Nicotine Replacement Therapy (gum or the patch) during the course of their hospitalization.

Harlos said research shows that patients who remain smoke-free during the course of their hospital stay recover more quickly with fewer complications. For example, patients who refrain from smoking suffer fewer wound infections after surgery than patients who continue to smoke.

Harlos said the WRHA anticipates most people will respect the health of others by cooperating with the new policy, just as they did with the City of Winnipeg's Smoking By-law.

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