Llano Memorial Healthcare System is going tobacco-free on November 20, 2008, the date designated by the American Cancer Society for their nationwide campaign known as “The Great American Smokeout”. As of that date, no tobacco use of any kind will be permitted – inside or outside – on hospital and all related health system property. According to Kevin Leeper, LMHS CEO “we want to give the community advance notice of our intent to move to a tobacco-free policy”. This initiative also will include the elimination of designated smoking areas outside Llano Memorial Hospital where employees, patients and visitors currently use tobacco products.
Llano Memorial Healthcare System joins countless other health systems across Texas in a decision to become tobacco-free. In announcing the tobacco-free initiative, Linda Meredith, LMHS COO, said, “As a health care organization, we are committed to the health and safety of our employees and patients. We believe that we have a responsibility to take a leadership role on this major health issue, and allowing people to use tobacco products defeats this purpose.”
In a report issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Cancer Registry, 16,196 Texans died and another 25,494 were diagnosed with a tobacco-related cancer in 2002. The US Surgeon General has confirmed that exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke is a serious health hazard and that there is no risk-free level of exposure. Meredith added, “tobacco use in and around hospitals poses health and safety risks for patients, employees and visitors”.
According to Leeper, “Llano Memorial’s decision to go tobacco-free is not an attempt to “force” anyone to quit using tobacco products. Rather, the tobacco-free initiative is a concrete way we can demonstrate our ongoing commitment to healthy living. We are asking for community support in Llano Memorial’s tobacco-free initiative and will use the next four months to make sure the community is well informed of the tobacco-free initiative and develop programs aimed at assisting those who may be interested in breaking the habit.”