ATHOL — Athol Memorial Hospital’s main campus, which includes the grounds and parking lots at 2033 Main Street and the Medical Arts Building at 80 Mechanic St., officially went smoke-free on Sept. 4. The hospital is committed to providing a safe, healthy environment for patients, visitors, and staff and serving as a model of health promotion in the community. AMH will be banning the use of all tobacco products on its campus and is requesting the assistance of all patients, families, and visitors in observing this ban.
Smoking anywhere in the Athol Memorial Hospital main campus buildings has been prohibited since the early 1990s. Patients who smoke are offered nicotine-replacement therapy upon admission and assisted with smoking-cessation plans when discharged.
The hospital sponsors a smoking cessation support group, held every Monday at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria, open to anyone in the community. T.J. Sweeney, tobacco treatment specialist, facilitates the meetings. The hospital is offering smoking cessation classes, also taught by Sweeney, to staff members wanting to quit.
“We are joining the ranks of many institutions, such as all public schools, other hospitals, and many private companies, including the L.S Starrett Co. in Athol, limiting smoking at places of business,” stated Athol Memorial Hospital’s president and CEO, Steve Penka, FACHE. “As the area’s leading health care provider, it’s the right thing to do.”
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States, and the major cause of hospital admissions and readmissions. More than 440,000 people die in the U.S. each year from smoking-related diseases, and smoking is the leading cause of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and emphysema. Patients who smoke have twice the risk of wound infection than do non-smokers, are slower to heal after surgery, and have increased gastrointestinal, prenatal, and orthopedic complications.
Secondhand smoke, also known as passive smoking, or environmental tobacco smoke, also has negative health consequences. Lung cancer, nasal sinus cavity cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer, and bladder cancer have all been linked to secondhand smoke.
Other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, narrowing and hardening of the arteries, asthma, and chronic respiratory conditions may be caused, and are worsened, by secondhand smoke.