At first glance it's pretty clear why a cancer center would ban outdoor smoking. Knowing that smoking is a cause of many cancers - it seems that setting an example would be important. But what's exciting about this development - and the reason I'm writing - is an opportunity to see how a decision like this affects the people directly involved. What are the pro's and con's?
Researchers polled both employees and patients who were affected by an outdoor smoking ban put in place at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. Questions were asked both before the ban, and 3 months after the ban went into effect.
Among the patients, a smoke-free outdoor atmosphere was considered very favorable. Combining employees and patients, 87% of non-smokers supported the ban. The majority of smoking patients (57%) supported banning outdoor smoking as well.
Among the employees who smoked there was less excitement. Only 20% were in support of the ban. In addition, 32% believed that banning smoking outdoors would negatively affect their job performance.
Following the ban the smoking employees fared better than thought. Only 22% said that the ban had negatively impacted their job performance, and 7% were able to successfully quit smoking altogether. Considering the impact that smoking has on health - the cancers caused by smoking - the diseases caused by smoking - and the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure - this translates to better health for almost 10% of smoking employees.
It's important to note that the smoking employees at Moffitt were not left high and dry with this decision. Employees were offered smoking cessation resources including quit smoking classes, nicotine replacement therapy, and pamphlets.
Photo: flickr.com, author SashaW
Unrod, M. et al. Outdoor Smoking Ban at a Cancer Center: Attitudes and Smoking Behavior Among Employees and Patients. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. 18(5):E24-E31.