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News Releases / 2012

All CMHS Facilities to be Smoke and Tobacco-Free on Jan. 1

Ventura, California, 11/30/2012

Community Memorial Health System is instituting a comprehensive program that will make all facilities in its network – which includes Community Memorial Hospital, Ojai Valley Community Hospital and its 12 Centers for Family Health offices in Ventura County – smoke- and tobacco-free beginning on Jan. 1, 2013.

Gary Wilde, CMHS's president and Chief Executive Officer, made the announcement in a recent memo to employees. He noted the policy is a mandate for the health system's accreditation from Det Norske Veritas Healthcare, Inc.

"Over the last several years, public health initiatives have placed restrictions on smoking in public places," Wilde wrote. "Hospitals throughout the nation have also been moving toward smoke- and tobacco-free environments to promote healthy living among patients, visitors and staff. As a healthcare institution, we must lead by example in this area."

The new policy also affects other CMHS-affiliated offices, including the Coastal Communities Cancer Center, Medical Arts Plaza Building and Olivas Park Business Office, and it applies to all indoor and outdoor spaces, owned or leased by CMHS. They include parking lots and driveways that are used by CMHS and vehicles on CMHS property, whether owned or leased by CMHS or privately owned. The only exception will be the patients-only outdoor smoking area at Ojai Valley Hospital's Continuing Care Center.

Also effective January 1, 2013, CMHS will not hire persons who use tobacco – meaning any substance made in whole or part from the tobacco plant, including cigarettes, "clove" cigarettes, tobacco cigars, chewing tobacco, tobacco snuff and tobacco smoked in a pipe. CMHS will use pre-employment drug screening to determine whether an applicant is tobacco-free.

CMHS employees who use tobacco, but were hired before Jan. 1, will be encouraged to quit its use but will not be terminated from employment as long as they do not smoke or chew tobacco on CMHS premises.

The new policy also applies to patients and visitors as well as contractors and vendors.

At the time of admission or registration, patients and visitors will be given information regarding the Smoke and Tobacco-Free Environment policy. Patients will be informed that leaving the facility while admitted to smoke or chew will not be allowed and classified as "against medical authorization."

Contractors and vendors who sign in at a CMHS facility will be reminded of the policy. Employees who observe a contractor or vendor violating this policy are encouraged to immediately report the relevant facts to a member of management responsible for the vendors or contractors.

"Our new policy isn't intended to punish anyone," Wilde wrote. "It is designed to provide all staff with a healthy and safe workplace and to treat patients in a healthy and safe environment. Our tobacco-cessation programs and related activities show our commitment and leadership in health promotion and disease prevention for our staff, patients and communities. We hope we provide the kinds of support that staff, patients and visitors need to take steps toward health."

Community Memorial Health System is a not-for-profit health system, which is comprised of Community Memorial Hospital, Ojai Valley Community Hospital, and 12 family-practice health centers entitled Centers for Family Health.  The health system is located in Ventura County, California.

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