Washington Health System has a nicotine and tobacco-free policy at all facilities.

“We prohibit nicotine and tobacco use on our properties to provide a healthy and safe environment for employees, patients and visitors and to promote positive health behaviors,” said Brook Ward, health system president and CEO.

The policy bans the use of all tobacco and nicotine products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes and vapor nicotine products within all properties owned, leased or occupied by Washington Health System. This includes parking lots, health system vehicles and employees’ personal vehicles parked on the premises, as well as surrounding streets and sidewalks. Employees are prohibited from using tobacco and nicotine (excluding nicotine-containing smoking cessation aids) products during working hours.

The following should answer common questions about our nicotine and tobacco-free policy.

As an institution dedicated to improving the health of our patients and community, we must “walk the talk” and show our commitment and leadership in tangible ways. Tobacco and nicotine-free property is the standard for many healthcare institutions, including most of those in western Pennsylvania. While we know this may not be easy, it is central to continuing Washington Health System’s mission of “Providing Great Patient Care.”

This means all nicotine and tobacco products (other than nicotine-containing smoking cessation aids) are prohibited in Washington Hospital facilities and on its properties. This includes cigars, cigarettes, pipe smoking, smokeless (chewing) tobacco, e-cigarettes, vapor nicotine products and all other tobacco products.

There is no legal right to smoke or use vapor products. On the other hand, companies have a right to create a tobacco-free environment within their properties and facilities. This initiative is consistent with our goals of supporting good health and wellness.

If your car is parked in a Washington Health System owned or leased parking lot, you cannot smoke or use tobacco or nicotine products because the lot is part of our tobacco-free zone.

Upon admission, patients will be encouraged to tell staff members if they would like help with tobacco and nicotine alternatives to get them through their hospitalization without usage. They will be offered resources to assist them.

Patients will not be granted permission to leave for this purpose. Instead, they should speak with a team member for assistance and an alternative to using these substances while in our facility.

We have learned that designated areas do not protect non-smokers from the effects of secondhand smoke. In addition to increasing the risk of premature death among nonsmokers, secondhand smoke can worsen pulmonary symptoms in people with asthma and chronic bronchitis, as well as increase eye irritation, sore throats and nausea.