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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 36(2)

Do smoke-free environment policies reduce smoking on hospital grounds? Evaluation of a smoke-free health service policy at two Sydney hospitals

Natasha Poder A E , Therese Carroll B , Cate Wallace C and Myna Hua D

A Health Promotion Service, South Western Sydney and Sydney Local Health Districts, Narellan Community Health Centre, 14 Queen Street, Narellan, NSW 2567, Australia.
B NSW Health Public Health Training Program, NSW Ministry of Health, 73 Miller Street, North Sydney, NSW 2060, Australia. Email: therese.carroll@doh.nsw.health.gov.au
C Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Office, NSW Ministry of Health, 73 Miller Street, North Sydney, NSW 2060, Australia. Email: cawal@doh.health.nsw.gov.au
D Health Promotion Service, South Western Sydney and Sydney Local Health Districts, KGV building, Level 9 North, Missenden Rd, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia. Email: mhua@email.cs.nsw.gov.au
E Corresponding author. Email: natasha.poder@sswahs.nsw.gov.au

Australian Health Review 36(2) 158-162 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AH11998
Submitted: 18 January 2011  Accepted: 25 July 2011   Published: 28 February 2012

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Objective. To evaluate the compliance of hospital staff, inpatients and visitors with Sydney South West Area Health Service’s Smoke-free Environment Policy.

Methods. Six sites were observed at two Sydney hospitals 2 weeks before implementation of the policy and at 2 weeks, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months and 2 years after implementation.

Results. There was an overall significant 36% (P ≤ 0.05) reduction in observed smoking incidents on hospital grounds 2 years after implementation. Two years after implementation, observed smoking incidents reduced by 44% (P ≤ 0.05) in staff, 37% (P ≤ 0.05) in visitors and remained unchanged among inpatients.

Conclusions and implications. The Smoke-free Environment Policy was effective in reducing visitors and staff observed smoking on hospital grounds, but had little effect on inpatients’ smoking. Identifying strategies to effectively manage nicotine addiction and promote cessation amongst hospital inpatients remains a key priority.

What is known about the topic? Smoke-free environment policies have been developed and introduced worldwide. These policies reduce tobacco use and protect the community from environmental tobacco smoke.

What does this paper add? This paper focusses on a method used to monitor compliance of a smoke-free environment policy in a healthcare setting. The paper tracks what happened over 2 years before and after the policy was implemented. Among staff, there was evidence of compliance with the policy; however, there was no apparent change in policy compliance amongst inpatients.

What are the implications for practitioners? Policy makers and staff implementing smoke-free policies should ensure adequate support for staff and inpatients are available, with continued promotion and enforcement of the policy. Further investigations are needed into multi-strategic cessation interventions for inpatients who smoke.


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