Written by Ruth Hellerud-Brown , Project Lead, Healthy Living/Healthy Communities

“I share my own quitting experiences.” “I approach smokers with respect and interest.” Sometimes, even if we are interested in educating smokers about our Smoke-Free Policy, it can be hard to know how to start.

To protect the health of employees, patients, clients and visitors, Fraser Health supports a smoke-free environment at all of our sites. This includes all of our buildings, property, and parking lots. There are posters at all of our sites that clearly state our Smoke-Free Policy.

But some people still smoke on site.

One of the most frequent pieces of feedback we received in our last smoke-free survey was that staff, patients and visitors are frustrated to see smokers lighting up directly under smoke-free signs.

It’s important to know that enforcement of our smoke-free standard starts with us. There is no one department, program or person responsible for enforcing our Smoke-Free Policy. Our staff survey told us that signs cannot replace direct interaction and engagement through dialogue. If we want to breathe easy outside our sites, speaking up for smoke-free is a community responsibility.

In our previous article on supporting our smoke-free policy, we encouraged everyone to Speak Up for Smoke-Free, by approaching people who smoke on property one-on-one. We also clarified that you are not obliged to if you are not comfortable doing so.  For those that are comfortable, what are the best ways to speak up? We support your initiative and ask that you share your experience!

Sometimes, even if you are interested in educating smokers about the Smoke-Free Policy on our sites, it can be hard to know how to start. So here are some approaches our staff tell us they have used when speaking to smokers. Feel free to find one that works for you:

  • “I share my own quitting experiences with patients, co-workers and friends to encourage them to quit for themselves.”
  •  “I find smokers are generally okay when you ask them to move away from the entrances because other people are complaining.”
  • “I take the time to speak to people who are smoking on our grounds, I approach them with respect and interest as to why they continue to smoke.”
  • “I continue to promote a smoke-free environment by informing new staff of the Smoke-Free Policy.”
  • “I remind people how dangerous smoking is not only to themselves but to others by second hand smoke pollution the air.”
  • “I simply tell people we are a smoke-free site when I see them smoking as I walk by.”
  • “I’m working on becoming smoke-free myself and encourage other staff by offering alternative activities at our break times.”

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ingrid Tyler says employees who encounter patients and visitors smoking on site can “respectfully remind them that we have a Smoke-Free Policy, ensure they have discussed Nicotine Replacement Therapy with their health care provider, and ask them to refrain from smoking on our premises, which helps our patients heal and ensures a safe and healthy environment for everyone.”

If you are looking for other ways to support our Smoke-Free Policy, we have lots of options. Check out this article to learn more.

Plus, we’ve just created a new smoke-free educational rack card, now available for download off of our Smoke-Free FH Pulse page or for printing from our Patient Education Catalogue (#265531), which you and your department can use as a tool to address smoking cessation with your patients.

Please join us in speaking up for our Smoke-Free Policy. When we all speak together, we can breathe easy.

Share your own suggestions for ways to speak up to preserve our smoke-free sites in the comments below and inspire someone else to smoke-free success.

Did this article help you better understand how to support our Smoke-Free Policy? Take our poll.

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