Background: This study reports the barriers and challenges for hospital tobacco control efforts after the institution of smoke-free policies.
Methods: Surveys of employees and inpatients of five hospitals in Augusta, Georgia, were conducted and evaluated 4 months after joint hospital implementation of smoke-free policies. A random sample of 1997 employees and a convenience sample of 517 inpatients returned usable surveys.
Results: Although attitudes to the hospital bans on smoking reflected strong support for smoke-free policies, four out of five hospitals reported significant implementation problems. Despite the bans, 49% of patients who were smokers continued to smoke while hospitalized, and almost one half of all hospitalized smokers had received no advice to quit smoking from a physician or a nurse since admission. Employees and patients both agreed that the smoke-free policies had benefited employees more than patients.
Conclusions: Despite achieving a smoke-free status, there are many challenges that remain for comprehensive hospital tobacco-control efforts. Hospitals and health care professionals must remain particularly alert and attentive to the needs of patients and employees still addicted to tobacco.