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Montefiore Declares Smoke-Free Campus

New Policy Extends No-smoking Zones at All of Montefiore's Bronx and Westchester Locations

Montefiore Medical Center announced its new smoke-free campus policy at a news conference held March 23. Pictured at the event are (from left) Andrew Goodman, MD, Deputy Commissioner, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Steven M. Safyer, MD, President and CEO, Montefiore; Peter Selwyn, MD, MPH, Chairman, Department of Family and Social Medicine at Montefiore, and chairman of its Office of Community Health; Sheelah Feinberg, Executive Director, NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City; Aurelia Greene, Bronx Deputy Borough President.

BRONX, NY (March 23, 2011) -- As the largest healthcare provider and employer in the Bronx, Montefiore Medical Center demonstrated its commitment to a healthier worksite and community by declaring a new smoke-free campus policy at a news conference held today.

The new policy applies to all Montefiore associates, patients, and visitors, and extends no-smoking zones beyond established 25-foot perimeters to include all Montefiore locations in the Bronx and Westchester, including its main hospital campuses, public areas such as parking garages, common areas in residential buildings, and community sites.

"Becoming a totally smoke-free campus is part of our comprehensive plan to increase health and wellness of the entire Montefiore community, including our nearly 18,000 associates," said Steven M. Safyer, MD, President and CEO, Montefiore Medical Center. "Montefiore is not one big hospital. It exists in 100 sites, including three campuses and a vast ambulatory care network. We wanted to do this for our associates, patients and visitors in every venue. We need to encourage people to quit and diminish temptation for those who want to smoke."

The new policy demonstrates Montefiore's strategic goals to maximize impact of community service and contribute to public health. Through its Office of Community Health, Montefiore supports the wellbeing of its associates and community through nutrition and fitness programs, smoke-free policy and other initiatives, many offered in alignment with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

"Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of death in the U.S. In the Bronx, the smoking rate is 15-20 percent higher than anywhere else in New York City, and it is particularly high among women and people living in the South Bronx. This is a preventable epidemic," said Peter Selwyn, MD, MPH, Chairman of Montefiore's Department of Family and Social Medicine and its Office of Community Health.  "We care about the health of our associates, visitors and this community. Our new policy is intended to help those who want to make this change in their lives."

Joining Dr. Safyer and Dr. Selwyn at the news conference were Andrew Goodman, MD, Deputy Commissioner, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Aurelia Greene, Bronx Deputy Borough President; and Sheelah Feinberg, Executive Director of the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City.

"We are pleased to be part of this historic day and thank Montefiore for taking the lead on this and other public health issues," said Andrew Goodman, MD, Deputy Commissioner, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. "Smoke- and tobacco-free policies in New York City are making a difference. In the past 8 years, 250,000 people have dialed 311 for assistance with quitting, and we estimate 80,000 have gone on to successfully quit. We can continue this progress." 

"Our beautiful borough suffers from some of the worst health indicators in the nation. We are working on solutions including smoking cessation, specifically among the teen population. Our goal is to make smoking undesirable to teens and to make tobacco less accessible to them," said Aurelia Greene, Bronx Deputy Borough President.

Montefiore's smoke-free campus announcement coincides with Kick Butts Day 2011, a national day of activism sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids. To help smokers kick the habit, representatives of Bronx Breathes were on-hand to distribute free nicotine patches and gum at multiple Montefiore sites. For Montefiore associates who want to kick the habit, the medical center is providing free nicotine replacement products through its Occupational Health Service and its in-house pharmacies. 

Smoking is associated with increased risk of death from lung cancer and heart disease. It is not only harmful to the smoker, but to anyone who is exposed to secondhand smoke. Limiting exposure to tobacco products/byproducts is an important step toward protecting the health of adults and children.