HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - For more than a year United Hospital Center in Bridgeport has been planning a total ban of tobacco products on its campus, and on December 3rd that goal took effect.
Previously, visitors could smoke openly, but hospital staff had to smoke in their cars. Now no one is allowed to smoke anywhere on hospital grounds.
"Probably mostly out front is where we see it," said Stephanie Smart, VP of nursing. "But we have to remind them now that we're sorry but this is a tobacco free campus and we'd appreciate if you'd stop smoking."
Visitors smoking around the entrance of the hospital was one of staff's biggest concerns due to second hand smoke, which health officials say breathing in is just as bad as smoking themselves.
This poses risks for hospital visitors like newborn babies and children.
"To have to walk in and out of the building and be subjected to smoke is really not a health environment for our people."
UHC's main goal is to create and promote a healthy environment for patients and staff. One that doesn't encourage tobacco use and it's unhealthy effects on the human body.
"It's difficult to say we're promoting that healthy environment when we allow people to engage in activities like smoking and other forms of tobacco use because it's well known how unhealthy those habits are."
While this is only the start of the campus tobacco ban, UHC officials are hoping that many of their staff members and visitors will take this ban as their first steps to break their tobacco addictions.
"I hope that a lot of people will really take that initiative to quit smoking and tobacco use," said Smart. "And it's a big initiative to be here all day and not be able to use tobacco at all."