Smoke-Free Together: Changing the culture of smoking

Smoke Free Thunder Bay

Smoking Kills TBRHSC offers safer alternatives
TBRHSC Offers Alternatives to smoking tobacco.

THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) launched their Smoke-Free Together initiative in an effort to put the health of patients first by having a supportive, smoke-free environment.

To date, this health initiative has included more than 50 activities both internally and externally. “Our approach is based on best practice evidence from other hospitals, innovative research from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and expert opinion from our community and provincial partners,” says Dr. Mark Henderson, Executive Vice President of Patient Care Services and Regional Vice President of Cancer Care Ontario.

Some of the biggest successes of this initiative include: an amendment of the City of Thunder Bay’s Smoking Prohibition By-Law #052-2010 to include all TBRHSC property, a bedside smoking cessation nurse for inpatients, group support/counseling sessions with mental health patients, improvements to staff smoking cessation benefits, and the roll-out of a clinic-wide smoking cessation initiative for outpatients at Regional Cancer Care Northwest. Each of these milestones represents improvement in TBRHSC’s commitment to support patients, families, and staff in staying smoke-free while on TBRHSC property.

“Our primary goal is not to penalize people for their addiction to nicotine. Rather, we want to help them and support them to be smoke-free. We have many initiatives in place to do this, from free ‘Care Kits’ available at the information desk to bedside smoking cessation counseling,” adds Henderson.

Since the hospital’s ‘Go Live’ of the Smoke-Free Together initiative on September 30th last year, there has been a marked decrease in the amount of smoking on the grounds. Staff and visitors have both mentioned that, while the grounds still aren’t 100% smoke-free, there is less smoking on the property than there used to be.

When asked what it will take to gain 100% smoke-free grounds, Henderson said, “To put this issue into perspective – look how far we’ve come. It wasn’t that long ago that physicians were actually marketing cigarettes. It also wasn’t that long ago that we used to allow smoking inside the hospital. This is another step in the direction to move smoke-free and keep our environment safe and healthy for our patients.”

Kelly-Jo Gillis, Acting Director of Prevention & Screening Services, emphasized the cultural change required for Smoke-Free Together to be successful. “Although we are seeing a marked decrease in smoking on the grounds (especially outside the doors and main entrance), we know we haven’t achieved 100% compliance. We are striving for progress, not perfection – and so far, so good. This is a culture change – one that will take time and patience. In the meantime, we continue to educate and communicate the supports available to patients and staff such as nicotine replacement therapy, medications, and counseling. “

For more information on the Smoke-Free Together initiative or on how you can quit smoking visit: www.tbrhsc.net/smokefree.

Smoke Free Thunder Bay