How to Improve Tobacco-Free Policies in Buildings

April 18, 2016

Comprehensive scope, smart enforcement noted as keys to program success.

As more facilities, especially in the healthcare field, adopt tobacco-free policies for buildings and surrounding grounds, a new study has identified key factors that can improve program effectiveness and foster a healthier environment. The researchers from South Dakota State University found that healthcare facilities using a complete, comprehensive policy that clearly communicated the scope of the ban to everyone who could be affected were the most useful for eliminating tobacco use.

“To be tobacco-free, a facility must prohibit tobacco and smoking in buildings and on campus grounds it owns and leases. It must be enforced 24-7 and prohibit smoking or tobacco for all people,” explains Heidi Mennenga, Assistant Nursing Professor with South Dakota State University.

The study also found that in addition to strong communication and enforcement measures, providing smokers with information and referrals for cessation services can help improve program effectiveness. Researchers evaluated policies from 348 healthcare facilities – including WIC and family planning centers, substance abuse facilities, and hospitals – noting that clinics and hospitals were more likely to have comprehensive policies in place, while other types of facilities still had work to do.

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