Smokers may be moved farther away from hospital entrances

Smokers may be moved farther away from hospital entrances (Image 1)

Some Mid-State hospitals are considering moving smoke areas farther away from entrances to the facilities.

At many hospitals across the state, smokers have to be at least 50 feet away from entrances to light up.

Smokers at Vanderbilt, Baptist and Centennial hospitals may find themselves walking even further than they do now to find a designated spot to light up.

If a proposed Metro ordinance passes, hospitals could choose to increase the designated smoking areas to 200 feet from entrances.

“That's exactly what this bill does,” said Burkley Allen, a Metro Council Member sponsoring the bill, “It extends it to the public right of way. Currently, they can ban it on their campus, but have no jurisdiction over the sidewalk, and so now municipalities have said, at least Nashville has said, we agree with your mission and we're willing to ban it on the sidewalk as well to whatever distance you feel is important.”

John Howser, Director of News & Communications at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said this is an important issue to the medical center.

“We have a lot of patients with severe respiratory disorders,” Howser told Nashville's News 2, “and they can have attacks triggered by cigarette smoke. So we're trying to create a further safe boundary for these people to come and go from very heavily traveled buildings on our medical center campus.”

Howser also added, “There have proven some places here on campus that have been very difficult to regulate in terms of creating these safe boundaries, so that's why we're seeking additional buffers from 50 to 200 feet.”

Sandra Minton, whose mother is currently a patient at the hospital, said an added buffer would not make her stop smoking.

“They can move it 500 feet,” said Minton, “It's not going to make a difference.

“If you smoke, you smoke. It just makes me further from my mother,” she added.

Jacqueline Jones recently quit smoking and said she supports designated smoking areas further away from entrances.

“To push it out further, I think it's not a bad idea,” Jones told Nashville's News 2, “It's not healthy for the patients and it's not a good thing.”

The proposed bill will be heard for the first time in Metro Council on Tuesday night and will require two more readings before it can pass.

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