Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate how adopting a smoke-free policy in state psychiatric hospitals affected key factors, including adverse events, smoking cessation treatment options, and specialty training for clinical staff about smoking-related issues.
Methods: Hospitals were surveyed in 2006 and 2008 about their smoking policies, smoking cessation aids, milieu management, smoking cessation treatment options, and aftercare planning and referrals for smoking education. Comparisons were made between hospitals that went smoke-free between the two time periods (N=28) and those that did not (N=42).
Results: Among hospitals that changed to a smoke-free policy, the proportion that reported adverse events decreased by 75% or more in three areas: smoking or tobacco use as a precursor to incidents that led to seclusion or restraint, smoking-related health conditions, and coercion or threats among patients and staff. Hospitals that did not adopt a smoke-free policy cited several barriers, including resistance from staff, patients, and advocates.
Conclusions: Although staff were concerned that implementing a smoke-free policy would have negative effects, this was not borne out. Findings indicated that adopting a smoke-free policy was associated with a positive impact on hospitals, as evidenced by a reduction in negative events related to smoking. After adoption of a smoke-free policy, fewer hospitals reported seclusion or restraint related to smoking, coercion, and smoking-related health conditions, and there was no increase in reported elopements or fires. For hospitals adopting a smoke-free policy in 2008, there was no significant difference between 2006 and 2008 in the number offering nicotine replacement therapies or clinical staff specialty training. Results suggest that smoking cessation practices are not changing in the hospital as a result of a change in policy.