During a week when Americans traditionally declare resolutions for a new year, Conemaugh Health System has positioned itself to assist area smokers who have resolved to quit their habit.
We commend Conemaugh’s effort and urge residents with a desire to quit to get on board. We all know that smoking and firsthand smoke are killers.
“To quit smoking” annually is among the New Year’s Top 10 resolutions in polls.
In an advertisement appearing in our Tuesday newspaper, Conemaugh invited area residents to join in the health system’s 2013 resolution: “Tobacco-free for our employees, patients and communities.”
“As a health care provider, we are dedicated to the well-being of the communities we serve,” the ad stressed. “To create a healthier environment for our patients, families and communities, Conemaugh Health System has implemented mandatory ‘smoke-free shifts’ for all employees effective (Jan. 1).”
The smoke-free-shifts decision, announced in September, received our wholehearted support. But we certainly weren’t alone.
“Our employees are on board with this; they helped us implement it,” Memorial Medical Center President Steven Tucker told us recently when asked about the feedback he had been receiving.
During shifts, tobacco use is banned for all employees, contracted workers and volunteers.
Signs announcing a tobacco-free zone surround campus properties.
In doing this, Conemaugh notes that tobacco use is:
* The leading cause of preventable death and disability in the U.S.
* Responsible for the premature death of nearly half a million Americans each year.
* Responsible for one in five deaths in the U.S.
But Conemaugh, to its credit, has also offered to help area residents quit smoking. Free smoking cessation classes open to the public will start on Tuesday at Memorial.
The classes, Conemaugh says, provide an evaluation of a person’s tobacco history and willingness to quit. It can be in a group or individualized format. Also offered are counseling by trained professionals.
To join or for more information, residents have been asked to call 534-1990.
Conemaugh again pointed to a community needs assessment by United Way of the Laurel Highlands showing that our region has a higher percentage of smokers than the state and national averages. Why is anybody’s guess, but it certainly doesn’t bode well for our overall health.
“In just one day of not smoking, your risk of heart attack decreases, Conemaugh’s advertisement says. “In just one week, your breathing will be easier and your circulation improved. What a great way to start the new year.”
Indeed. What are you waiting for?
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