A Smoke Free Campus 

Fountain Valley, CA – March 17, 2008 – There’s simply no denying the dangers of smoking.

The list of diseases to which it is linked is long: heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, emphysema and birth defects.

For that reason, the entire campus of Fountain Valley Regional Hospital (FVRH), including the grounds and parking lots, will go smoke-free on Tuesday, April 1, 2008. On that day, the hospital will recognize the commitment of their employees to giving the gift of health to themselves and the community through their efforts to quit smoking. Fountain Valley Mayor John Collins and other members of Fountain Valley’s City Council will be in attendance. The City banned smoking in public parks in June of last year.

"As a healthcare leader in our community, it’s important for us to be the role model for others when it comes to healthy habits," said Debbie Keel, the hospital’s CEO and a former smoker herself who chose to quit several years ago. "Smoking is one of the leading causes of heart disease. To me, at least, heart health and smoking cannot co-exist and certainly not on the campus of a hospital that is one of the major cardiology centers in Orange County."

Fountain Valley Regional Hospital joins only a few other hospitals in Orange County who have implemented plans to eliminate tobacco use on their grounds. For a hospital that cared for over a thousand oncology patients and delivered over 3,800 babies last year, going smoke-free was the right thing to do.

Fountain Valley Hospital has not permitted smoking within its buildings for years, but patients, visitors and staff were allowed to use tobacco products outside in designated areas. Beginning April 1, smoking will not be permitted anywhere on the 35-acre campus, including entrances, patios, walkways and parking lots.

"We are an organization focused on providing good health care. How can we do that if we allow smoking?" asks Dr. Satinder Swaroop, M.D., chief of FVRH’s medical staff. "We are dedicated to doing the best thing for our patients, and allowing them to do something as harmful smoking while they’re here or to breathe someone else’s smoke on our grounds is not in their best interest." The hospital’s Medical Executive Committee unanimously supported the new policy.

To prepare for a smoke-free campus, FVRH organized a smoke-free task force of employees who are smokers, former smokers and non-smokers.

"We know this will be a difficult change for some of our patients, visitors and staff members, so it’s essential that we design a workable plan that takes those issues into consideration," said Tim Howard, Chief Human Resources Officer. "We have been offering resources and support to our staff who want to take this opportunity to give up tobacco altogether."

Last year, as a first step, FVRH employees were invited to take part in the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout and to pledge to quit smoking. The hospital held a mini health fair that day to provide information about subsidized employee smoking cessation programs and other employee health benefits. Employees were also encouraged to "adopt" a coworker to help them quit. The hospital’s partners included The American Cancer Society, 24 Hour Fitness, Sue Berman, a clinical hypnotist, and the Nhan Hoa Community Clinic.

For the community, the hospital already offers smoking cessation classes on campus. For information, call (714) 979-1408. The Orange County Health Care Agency also provides information on community smoking cessation programs.