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Tufts Medical Center bans smoking

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  April 12, 2012 02:19 PM

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May Chin.jpg

(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)

May Chin, project director for Tufts Medical Center’s Pediatric Asthma Prevention and Management Initiative, described her own struggle to give up smoking as Eric Beyer, president and CEO of the medical center, looked on.

Tufts Medical Center announced Thursday that it will ban smoking and the use of all tobacco products on its campus and the adjacent Floating Hospital for Children beginning next week.

On April 16, no tobacco use will be permitted within 25 feet of any building owned, leased, or occupied by the medical center. Tufts Medical Center is one of 10 local hospitals that have promised to ban smoking in 2012 under the Tobacco-Free Hospital Initiative launched last November by Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

The Tufts University Health Sciences campus will adopt a similar policy. The tobacco-free zone created by the bans will stretch from Hudson Street to Tremont and from Kneeland to Oak Street.

In a statement, the hospital said it is banning smoking because the habit is “a major cause of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and lung disease, illnesses treated every day at Tufts Medical Center.”

As part of the initiative, the medical center will offer employees free support and counseling for smoking cessation and will have nicotine patches available for sale at three locations throughout the complex, with one open 24 hours.

Barbara Ferrer.jpg
(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)
Dr. Barbara Ferrer.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Boston Public Health Commission, lauded the new policy at a ceremony Thursday morning. Ferrer said it would create a healthier environment for more than 100,000 patients; 41,000 emergency-room visitors; 350,000 visitors to Tufts clinics; and almost 8,000 employees, volunteers, and contractors.

“Tobacco-free hospital policies represent an enormous opportunity to improve the health of patients, workers, and visitors, and to decrease tobacco-related employee health costs and promote the hospital’s image as a health-care leader,” Ferrer said.

“This is huge, and could not have happened without outstanding leadership, dedicated staff, and a lot of hard work.”

May Chin, a registered nurse and project director for the medical center’s Pediatric Asthma Prevention and Management Initiative, reflected on the 20 years she spent as a two-pack-a-day smoker and the five years and four attempts it took to kick the habit.

“One time I didn’t smoke for 12 months but started back again on a whim,” Chin said. “One of the best strategies that I used for many, many years was to sit on my hands until the urge for a cigarette passed by.”

Chin has now been smoke-free for 15 years. She urged smokers to take advantage of the medical center’s smoking cessation programs. “And if at first you don’t succeed, try again and again and again and again, as I did.”

She counseled non-smokers to be “patient, persistent, and supportive” of family, friends, and co-workers who smoke.

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremycfox@gmail.com.
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(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)

David Vo, a youth counselor for Boston Asian Youth Essential Service, thanked Tufts Medical Center for creating a healthier environment for Chinatown youth.

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