Wednesday 11 medical centers and all public health facilities in southwest Georgia pledged to make their campuses, inside and outside, tobacco free in 2004.
This "southwest Georgia cancer coalition" is an effort to make a difference. Smoking is slowly being extinguished in many public places.
For years, smokers at Archbold Hospital have relied on their courtyard for cigarette breaks, but early next year smoking will be put out throughout the campuses of 11 hospitals and all public health facilities in southwest Georgia.
"We know it's not healthy for our patients or our visitors and it's the same thing with employees, many employees resent the secondhand inhalation part," says Ken Beverly, president and CEO of Archbold Hospital.
"All of us share a responsibility of cutting down on deaths and disease from tobacco; heart disease, lung cancer, chronic lung disease and a host of other ills."
"Smokers say they understand the health risks cigarettes pose, especially around a medical facility, but they say they still need someplace to go," says Paul Newell, Director, SW Health District of Georgia.
Linda Walker, nursing student and smoker, says, "It's a very stressful job, being a nurse, and you cannot walk off the floor and off campus to smoke if you need a cigarette."
Hospital officials say there are no buts about it. They feel this is the only way to turn awareness into action. The new rule will take effect in participating southwest Georgia facilities by February 1. As of now, Tallahassee hospitals still have designated smoking areas outside. Archbold Hospital is offering a class to help smokers quit.
Call 228-2970 for more information.