Smoking will be banned on CentraState property

CentraState Healthcare System plans to go smoke-free on all of its campuses effective November 2008, system officials announced.

While smoking has been banned within CentraState Medical Center and other facilities in the health system for years, the new smoke-free initiative, dubbed SAFE (Smoke-free Air For Everyone), will apply to the exterior surrounding grounds, including parking lots, as well.

The announcement coincided with the American Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smokeout, held last week, which challenges smokers to quit.

The smoking ban also follows the opening last month of CentraState’s new Star and Barry Tobias Ambulatory Campus, which is focused on health and wellness services, such as a state-of-the-art fitness and wellness center and new a home for CentraState’s award-winning Health Awareness Center.

“Tobacco smoke, inhaled first- or second hand, is clearly linked to a range of life-threatening diseases. Tobacco smoke is a preventable risk that has no place in or around the healthcare environment, which is dedicated to saving lives and enhancing health and well-being,” said John Gribbin, president and CEO of the CentraState Healthcare System.

“Expanding our smoke-free policy to encompass all exterior areas owned or operated by CentraState emphasizes our commitment to providing a healthy, safe environment for our patients, visitors, employees, physicians and volunteers, and to promoting healthy lifestyles,” Gribbin said.

The new policy applies to employees, physicians, students, volunteers, patients, visitors, vendors and others at all CentraState

Freehold locations, which currently include CentraState Medical Center; Donna O’Donnell, RN Medical Arts Building; Star and Barry Tobias Ambulatory Campus; Family Medicine Center; Applewood Estates lifecare residence; Monmouth Crossing assisting living community; The Manor Health and Rehabilitation; and Route 33 administrative offices.

Residents of CentraState’s senior living communities will be accorded a limited exemption per housing regulations.

“We are not requiring employees, physicians on staff and volunteers to quit smoking, although we certainly encourage it,” Gribbin said. “But we are requiring that they refrain from smoking while on CentraState property.”

A multidisciplinary SAFE team incorporating smokers and non-smokers from across CentraState has been formed to guide the health system through the transition and make the change as easy as possible for all involved.

Smoking cessation classes and support groups led by trained tobacco dependency treatment specialists already are offered to employees and the community through CentraState’s Health Awareness Center. For more information call (732) 308-0570.

“We realize this will not be an easy process for those who smoke. That’s why we have allowed a long lead time before implementing this policy,” said Dr. Benjamin Weinstein, senior vice president and medical director, CentraState Healthcare System, and a member of the SAFE team.

“In addition to our smoking cessation classes, we are looking into other programs to help our employees, patients and others quit or cope with not smoking while on CentraState property,” Weinstein said.