Lung Association Applauds Final Legislative Passage of Smokefree Hospitals Bill

Measure would protect patients ,employees and visitors from secondhand smoke

(June 22, 2013)

A bill the American Lung Association of the Northeast strongly supported to prohibit smoking on and around hospital grounds and nursing homes throughout the state of New York was given final legislative passage by the state Senate last night.  The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Rockland) and Senator Jack Martins (R-Mineola), was passed by the Assembly earlier this week. The legislation will now go to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his consideration.  

"No one should be forced to walk through a toxic cloud of tobacco smoke in order to receive health care at their hospital or while trying to recuperate or stay well at a residential health care facility,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO at the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “That’s why the Lung Association led the effort to get this bill passed. The Surgeon General states there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and we applaud the Legislature for passing this important public health measure and urge Governor Cuomo to sign it into law."

 “The facts are clear--secondhand smoke kills,” said Senator Martins.  “Health care facilities are the places we go to get treatment, heal and recover from serious illnesses.   They should not be the place where our health concerns start or are worsened.  Hospitals are also the places that should be setting the best example of positive health practices.  By banning smoking on hospital grounds and at other health care facilities, this bill will protect those living in, working at and visiting these facilities from exposure to the dangers of secondhand smoke.”

“We know that secondhand smoke is a killer, and there is nothing more effective or emblematic for the health of New Yorkers than making our healing facilities smokefree,” said Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee, Assembly sponsor of the bill. “I’m pleased that we were able to expand this important protection to hospitals and nursing homes,” Jaffee said.

The dangers of secondhand smoke are well documented. Secondhand smoke lingers in the air hours after cigarettes have been extinguished and can cause or exacerbate a wide range of adverse health effects. The smoke can trigger asthma episodes and can potentially increase the risk of heart attack.  Secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for 2,500 deaths in the state of New York annually.

According to the provisions of the bill, smoking will be prohibited on hospital campus grounds and within 15 feet of the property lines of hospitals and nursing homes.

The Lung Association noted that New York City enacted similar legislation in 2009.  Additionally, more than 100 hospitals across the state have adopted voluntary policies prohibiting smoking on their grounds. This legislation would standardize the policy and the enforcement mechanism and cover all hospitals in the state. 

The legislation prohibiting smoking on hospital grounds now goes to Governor Cuomo, for his consideration.  Once signed into law, the bill would take effect in 90 days.