What is the Smoke Free Grounds Policy?
Our new policy is part of a plan to improve health by reducing smoking. Northern Health will put this policy in place at our health facilities across Northern BC. We’ll put this in place in stages, and take some time where there are special considerations (in long term care facilities, palliative care as well as mental health and addictions facilities).
Smoking will not be allowed on Northern Health owned and operated property. This includes all buildings, grounds, and parking lots when the policy is in place.
Why does NH have this policy?
As a health care organization, we have to lead by example. We want to give our patients and health professionals a healthy environment at our facilities.
Do other health organizations have smoke-free policies?
Yes. Places like the Calgary Regional Health Authority and Capital Health in Edmonton have these kinds of smoke free grounds policy. All health authorities in BC are now putting similar smoke free grounds policies in place.
Are patients, residents and staff expected to quit smoking?
No. The policy is not about forcing people to quit but rather, is asking people not to smoke on Northern Health property. If people choose to quit, Northern Health has programs to help them.
Does the policy apply to everyone?
Yes, it’ll cover all people on Northern Health property. This includes NH staff (including medical staff), patients, visitors, volunteers, students, contractors and other persons providing services to NH or acting on behalf of NH.
At first, we’ll give special consideration to residents in long-term care facilities and palliative care as well as people in mental health and addictions facilities.
Then how will Northern Health handle smoking in long-term care, palliative care and mental health and addictions facilities?
We’re now developing ways that we can put this policy in place in those areas over a longer period, keeping in mind the needs of residents and clients.
What about the cultural ceremonial use of tobacco? Will it be allowed?
At first, there will be no changes from the arrangements currently in place. We are doing further work to develop guidelines for how and when the policy will begin covering this area.
What about home care clients who smoke?
For the past five years, we’ve had a policy in place for home care visits. We ask clients receiving services at home not to smoke an hour before a visit, or while our care staff are in the home.
How will I know where smoking is allowed?
Each NH site has unique property lines. The most common sense way to figure out where NH property ends is where the property meets city sidewalks that are next to city streets.
Does the policy include vehicles?
Although Northern Health’s policy is comprehensive, at this point in time it does not extend to preventing people from smoking in privately owned vehicles.
What happens if I smoke while on NH property?
We’ll remind people about the policy, and ask anyone smoking on the property to consider moving off the property or to put out their cigarette. We appreciate their cooperation as we put this policy in place.
Are there ashtrays around NH property to get rid of smoking materials?
We’re asking people who’ll now smoke off of the property to find a way to safely dispose of their smoking materials, including butts, without littering on neighboring property.
Who do I talk to if I want to quit smoking?
Quitting smoking can greatly improve your health and help you live longer. NH has a great stop smoking program that’s helped many people. The Nicotine Intervention
Counseling Center (NICC) is available in many communities across the region.
For more about the NICC program and other ways to help you quit smoking, please call your local public health unit.