The board of the Iowa Hospital Association’s has endorsed a policy of telling workers they can’t light up on hospital property — inside or out. The association’s Scott McIntyre says some had already started in that direction. Most have gone 100-percent tobacco free and eliminated tobacco use in all its forms from their campuses — parking areas, places outside the hospital as well as those inside.

He says it can take time to accomplish the policy and give staff time to adjust, offering them alternatives. Some have done it incrementally, first banning smoking in the building and later extending that to outdoors. McIntyre says it may seem intuitive that you shouldn’t smoke on the campus of a healthcare center, but the move hasn’t gone as quickly as some might expect.
He says big hospitals came on board quickly, many soon after the start of the year and most by midsummer. “‘There isn’t a big hospital that hasn’t adopted it,” he says.

But he notes it’s much harder in a smaller community. He was actually surprised that many hadn’t done it, though he notes that at small rural hospitals it’s a struggle. “It can be real rough,” McIntyre notes. “When you only have fifty or seventy employees and one-fifth of them smoke, that’s a good chunk of employees.” Some hospital CEO’s don’t want to cause trouble by enforcing a strict new policy, he says, and some have employees who resist it.