– Press release
As of Thursday, Nov. 20th, Northern Inyo Hospital will be tobacco-free. The move coincides with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, which falls on the same date.
This means that patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors, vendors and employees may no longer smoke or use tobacco on any NIH property. The new tobacco-free policy applies to indoor and outdoor areas, as well as parking lots and all cars parked in the lots.
The change was approved unanimously by the hospital’s Board of Directors in September. This policy change will help NIH meet its goal of improving the health and well-being of the people of Bishop and the surrounding communities.
“It’s the right thing to do,” said Victoria Alexander-Lane, NIH’s Chief Executive Officer. “As a hospital it is important that we educate and model healthy behaviors. Smoking remains one of the most preventable causes of death in the world. We must put our patients and their families first, and do everything we can to provide a healthy, tobacco-free environment.”
Alexander-Lane said the hospital definitely faces new challenges with this new policy. “But in the long run, this positive change will benefit everyone who comes to Northern Inyo Hospital,” she said.
The policy covers the hospital’s main campus at 150 Pioneer Lane and all NIH buildings including:
- Bishop Women’s Health Center
- Rural Health Clinic
- Northern Inyo Eye Center (Dr. Thomas Reid’s Office)
- Pioneer Medical Building
- Birch Street Business Annex
Items included under the tobacco-free policy are cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes and tobacco alternatives, such as clove cigarettes.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, smoking results in nearly 1 in 5 deaths; which equals about 480,000 early deaths each year. Smoking increases risk for a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. However, health experts say once someone stops smoking, regardless of how long or how much they smoked, these risks start to drop. For example, within the first month, the former smoker’s sense of smell and taste improves; within the first six months, their lung function improves; and within a year, their risk of heart disease is cut in half.
Help is available for those who want to quit smoking. The Inyo County Health & Human Services’ Wellness Center offers guidance to help people stop smoking. Contact Lisa at the Wellness Center, (760) 873-8039, for details, or call 1-800-NO-BUTTS, a 24-hour helpline funded by the California Department of Health. Translators are available.