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2 hospitals to prohibit smoking on grounds

Mount St. Mary's Hospital and Health Center and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center announced last week that their hospital campuses will become smoke-free zones effective next summer.

The two hospitals were among several Western New York hospitals to announce campus-wide no-smoking policies as part of the American Cancer Society's "Great American Smokeout."

Officials at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda are in the preliminary phase of developing a smoke-free environment, said Phyllis Gentner, a DeGraff senior marketing associate.

Spokesmen for Lockport Memorial Hospital and Newfane Inter-Community Memorial Hospital said the hospitals do not have smoke-free campuses, but do employ strict smoking policies.

In announcing the ban at the eastern Niagara County hospitals, Mount St. Mary's President and CEO Judith A. Maness said, "The adoption of a smoke-free campus supports and advances the mission of both our hospitals to reduce the burden of tobacco use and diseases caused by tobacco."

The new policy will go into effect July 21 and apply to patients, visitors, employees, students, trainees, volunteers and vendors at Memorial's downtown Niagara Falls campus, including the Hamilton B. Mizer Primary Care Center, and at Mount St. Mary's campus in Lewiston.

Smoke-free areas will include all buildings, grounds, parking lots and vehicles on those campuses.

Niagara Falls Memorial President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo said that a recent employee survey completed at the Niagara Falls hospital showed overwhelming support for a smoke-free campus policy.

"We have an obligation to the community and to all who walk through our doors to model safe health practices and to separate ourselves from self-destructive and potentially lethal habits that can adversely affect the health of our patients, visitors and valued staff members," Ruffolo said.

He said that during the transition hospital staff would work to ensure that policies and initiatives respect everyone's rights to a healthy environment.

The hospitals already have been informing those who work at and use the hospitals about the new policy, and will provide support to anyone who may want to quit smoking.

"Smoking causes many different cancers and accounts for some 30 percent of all cancer deaths. The sooner someone quits the better off they will be," Maness said. "We know this is going to be an adjustment for some people. We can't force someone to stop smoking, but we don't have to accommodate their smoking either. So far support for the policy has been great."

Aaron Besecker of the News Niagara Bureau contributed to this report.


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