Ohio Valley Hospital is Going Tobacco-and-Nicotine-Free

Ohio Valley Hospital (OVH) has made the decision to become a Tobacco-and-Nicotine-Free Campus by October 2017. We kicked off our journey on November 17, 2016 by asking our ENTIRE OVH campus, including employees, patients, and visitors, to participate in the Great American Smoke Out-a nationwide initiative. It was a great success, with many abstaining from nicotine usage on-campus that day.

OVH’s New Policy:

The new policy will ban the use of all tobacco-and-nicotine products, including: cigarettes, cigars, pipe smoking, and smokeless (chewing) tobacco within all properties owned or occupied by OVH. This change is not going to happen overnight. Here are the important dates to remember:

April 1st, 2017: A policy  went into effect banning all tobacco-and-nicotine use on campus for employees and contract workers, whether full-time, part-time, or causal.

October 1st, 2017: The entire Ohio Valley Hospital Campus, as well as external facilities (including all primary care offices, our senior living community, wound care centers, pain treatment center, and our outpatient psychiatry office) will become tobacco-and-nicotine-free. This means patients and visitors will be asked to refrain from using these products on our extended campus.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why are we becoming tobacco-and-nicotine free?

As an institution dedicated to improving the health of our community as well as our patients and employees, we must be an example to the community. Tobacco-and-nicotine-free property is the standard for many hospitals and health care institutions; most of western Pennsylvania’s hospitals are already doing so. Products such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping, cigars and chewing tobacco cause multiple health issues, both for those who use them, as well as those inhaling second-hand smoke and fumes. For more on the harmful effects of ENDS products, such as e-cigarettes and vaping, check out this blog.

While we know this process will not be easy and can not happen overnight, we want to insure that we continue Ohio Valley Hospital’s mission of providing “High-Quality Healthcare.”

What does this mean for the campus?

This means all tobacco-and-nicotine products will be prohibited in Ohio Valley Hospital facilities and on our properties. This includes cigars, cigarettes, pipe smoking, smokeless (chewing) tobacco, e-cigarettes and all other tobacco products.

Can I use these products in my car?

No, if your car is parked within any Ohio Valley Hospital-owned parking lot, you will not permitted to use any nicotine products. The lots are part of our tobacco-and-nicotine-free zone.

What about the bus stop?

Our bus stops are located on OVH property and therefore after October 1st no one will be allowed to use nicotine products at them.

Are there going to be designated tobacco-and-nicotine usage areas?

No, having these types of areas would defeat the purpose of a tobacco-and-nicotine-free campus. This will improve the air quality and health of our patients, visitors, and staff.

Facts about Tobacco Usage in Allegheny County and Tobacco-and-Nicotine Usage:

Allegheny County actually has some of the highest smoking rates around when compared to the rest of the state and the United States, according to Tobacco-Free Allegheny. 23% of Allegheny County residents smoke, compared to 18.4%  in Pennsylvania, and 17.8% in the United States.

Allegheny County recently updated their regulations on nicotine products, including e-cigarettes and vaping. Read about those here.

The state of Pennsylvania is also considering changes to their Act on tobacco usage.

Secondhand smoke (which includes includes vaping fumes) is a concern for anyone who comes into contact with it, as the effects can be detrimental. Breathing secondhand smoke may cause or worsen serious health conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, Pneumonia, Ear Infections, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In Pennsylvania, 850,000 children are exposed to smoke and vaping fumes each year.

Second-hand smoke isn’t just harmful to humans; cats exposed to secondhand smoke have twice the risk of getting feline lymphoma. Nicotine is also toxic to our pets. Dogs only have to ingest 5 milligrams of nicotine per pound of body weight to potentially endure lethal side effects. For example, a 10 lb dog would only have to eat 2-4 cigarettes to have a toxic reaction.  Click here to read more about how tobacco and nicotine are harmful to our pets.

Ways to Get Help and Quit Using Tobacco:

The process to quitting isn’t easy. That’s why programs are created to help you on your journey. A few ways to quit in PA and Allegheny County include:

  • Calling the PA Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW
    • They offer free counseling and medication
  • Finding a local cessation class

  • PA Quit Logix
    • A free online service available to all Pennsylvanians. When you sign up, you get special tools, a support team of coaches, research-based information, and a community of peers.
  • Consult with your Primary Care Doctor or visit one of ours!

We hope that you see how important it is for our Hospital to become tobacco-and-nicotine-free. We are making this step to improve the health of our staff, our patients and visitors, and our community. We appreciate yo as we work to increase our patient safety and quality of care. With us, you’re just around the corner from feeling better!

Written by: Kevin Dailey