THREE CITY HOSPITALS ARE NOW TOBACCO-FREE Putting Out the Fire, A Joint Campaign Theme to Make Hartford Healthier

(Hartford, CT) - Tobacco-free policies are now in effect at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Hartford Hospital and Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center.

As part of a campaign started by former City of Hartford Mayor Mike Peters to make "Hartford Healthier," the three hospitals collaborated 8 months ago to establish a tobacco-free policy for all employees, patients and visitors on each campus.

Today, November 19, 2009, was chosen as the day to launch the new policy in conjunction with the American Cancer Society's 33rd Annual Great American Smokeout.

"The decision to eliminate the use of tobacco is intended to establish an example of wellness and disease prevention especially for our young patients, staff and the community," said Martin Gavin, President and CEO, Connecticut Children's Medical Center.

The new policy means that any use of tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe smoking and snuff, will be prohibited by all employees, physicians, visitors, patients, volunteers, vendors and medical staff on any property owned by each institution. This prohibition applies to smoking in personal vehicles on the property, as well as in garages, on hospital walkways and all outdoor venues. Sidewalks adjacent to Hospital campuses are also tobacco-free zones.

"As a health care institution, it is our responsibility to lead by example and ensure our environment is as healthy as possible for our patients, employees and the community," said Elliot Joseph, President and CEO, Hartford Hospital. "We are proud today to officially become a tobacco-free campus and hope other organizations in our region will join us in making Hartford healthier."

"Since smoking remains the leading, most preventable cause of death in the United States, we feel it is essential to take this life-saving step toward promoting better health and a better quality of life for the communities we serve," said Christopher Dadlez, President and CEO, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center.

Research shows that smoke-free policies can dramatically reduce illness and even death from heart disease. Secondhand smoke can damage the lining of blood vessels. Together, damage to coronary arteries and clots that block blood flow can cause a heart attack.

Over the past several months, the hospitals have made resources available to employees to help them prepare for the new policy. Smoking cessation classes and access to other resources have also been introduced at the institutions.

Connecticut Children's Medical Center is the region's only academic medical center dedicated exclusively to the care of children. Offering a full range of services for children from birth through age 18, Connecticut Children's brings quality care to children and families through 10 affiliated community hospitals and 16 practice locations.

Hartford Hospital, founded in 1854, is one of the largest teaching hospitals and tertiary care centers in New England with the region's busiest surgery practice, and has been training physicians for nearly 130 years.

Founded in 1897, Saint Francis is a major teaching hospital licensed for 617 acute inpatient beds and 65 bassinets and is the largest Catholic hospital in New England.