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  1. Murray, Kathleen RN, CNA, MSN

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Q Our hospital is going totally smoke-free (inside and outside). I have a number of staff nurses who've said they'll leave the hospital if this happens. How can I help?


The reaction from your staff is a normal response to a mandate that they may have difficulty abiding because nicotine is addictive. The first thing you need to do is let your staff members know that you're there to support them. Explain to your staff members that the hospital policy doesn't necessarily mandate they quit, rather the intent is to prevent the use of tobacco products while on hospital property.


Thankfully, there are many proven techniques available to help your nurses overcome their smoking habit, if they so choose. Start by contacting human resources or the appropriate department within your organization to investigate what tools will be made available for the nurse managers to help support their staff during this difficult transition. For the employees who do want to quit smoking, most organizations want to help them succeed. Tell your staff members that the more strategies they use, the higher their odds of success.


The following are examples of resources and benefits that many hospitals are currently providing to their staffs:

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* a nonnicotine medication to aid in smoking cessation that's available in the hospital's pharmacy for a set co-pay for employees who participate in the benefit plan (requires a prescription)


* smoking cessation programs


* over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies


* checklists for preparing to lead a smoke-free life


* tips on how to prepare for the employee's first smoke-free day.



Additionally, there are hundreds of support groups, professional counselors, and organizations willing to lend a hand when your staff will need it most.1,2


Recently, my healthcare organi zation went smoke-free. I knew it was worth all our efforts when I received a note from the family of an employee who quit smoking. They thanked the organization for helping their mom quit because they "love her and want her to be healthy."




1. American Cancer Society. Kick the habit. http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/ped_10_3.asp?sitearea=PED. [Context Link]


2. National Cancer Institute. http://smokefree.gov. [Context Link]