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Hospitals Ban Smoking on Their Grounds

Smoking outside most of Missouri's 141 hospitals will be banned beginning September 1, 2006. That includes hospitals in Southwest Missouri like Cox, St John's, Doctors Hospital, and Skaggs. Hospitals already ban smoking inside their facilities. This new state regulation extends the ban to include parking lots. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

A new statewide regulation that bans smoking takes effect July 30th but hospitals actually have one year to fully implement the ban. Most hospitals have agreed to go tobacco free on September 1st.

Leslie Porth is Vice President of Health Planning for the Missouri Hospital Association.

She says some hospitals have already gone totally smoke free and have had good results.

Representatives of area hospitals say they've been preparing for the new regulation and plan to offer employees who are interested access to smoking cessation materials.

Mike Peters is Vice President of Public Affairs for St. John's Health System.

Officials with Cox hospital say they also will help employees who wish to quit smoking.

Lori Cunningham is Vice President of Corporate Communications for Cox...She says the hospital will be careful about how it enforces the ban, especially with relatives of patients facing serious health circumstances.

Hospital officials say the expanded smoking ban simply makes good sense.

Leslie Porth with the Missouri Hospital Association says smoking causes major health problems.

Porth says military hospitals, V-A medical centers, and psychiatric facilities will be exempt from the new regulation.