UK hospital to ban outside smoking

By James Pennington

All outdoor areas on UK’s Medical Center campus will be tobacco-free beginning Nov. 20.

The UK Board of Trustees formally approved the plan in late April to eliminate smoke from the Medical Centercampus, surrounding grounds and other related offices.

That plan targets outdoor areas of the Medical Center, as all indoor areas of the Medical Center became smoke-free in November 2006, when the Board of Trustees adopted an indoor smoke-free policy. Since November 2006, smokers on UK’s campus have been required to stand 20 feet from any building entrance, exit, window or air intake.

UK’s new policy will be implemented in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s “Great American Smoke Out Day,” an annual event on the third Thursday of November, which challenges people to quit smoking for 24 hours.

The new policy is UK’s version of a growing trend, said Elizabeth Cobb, health care policy director at Kentucky Hospital Association.

“Many hospitals are finding that it is important to take a leadership role in decreasing tobacco and improving the health care of their community,” Cobb said.

During the summer months leading up to the policy’s implementation, a committee comprised of people from within the Medical Center and UK’s medical colleges will be devising a way to enforce the ban.

Although smoking has stopped inside UK’s facilities, it has proven to be much more difficult to enforce the “20-feet rule” for the campus’s outdoor areas.

“To some extent, you’re relying on peoples’ willingness,” UK spokesman Jay Blanton said.

UK’s Chandler Hospital currently has two designated smoking areas, and UK’s Good Samaritan Hospital has one. All of those designated areas will be eliminated when the plan comes in effect.

UK Hospital employee Lisa Durrum, a longtime smoker, does not think the plan could keep so many people from smoking.

“I just don’t see it happening,” Durrum said. “There are too many smokers around here.”

Despite the skepticism, the Medical Center remains optimistic about finding a way to make sure the plan works. Murray Clark, associate vice president of Medical Center operations, said UK will learn from other hospitals around the country that have implemented such plans.

“We’re taking lessons from them,” Clark said. “We think it’s doable.”