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BMC, DSU Campuses to Go Tobacco-Free in Fall

7/13/2010

Cleveland, MS - Bolivar Medical Center and Delta State University are collaborating on an initiative to phase out tobacco usage on their campuses. Delta State will implement its new policy on September 1, 2010 to coincide with the beginning of the fall semester.

Bolivar Medical Center has set November 18, 2010 as its effective date to coincide with the Great American Smokeout.  After these dates, no tobacco usage of any kind will be permitted inside or outside on either campus.

Read more about Bolivar Medical Center's participation in the Mississippi ACT2Quit Program.

"We have been evaluating the tobacco-free initiative for several months," stated hospital CEO Wes Sigler. "We discussed our plans with our Medical Executive Committee and our Board of Trustees. These groups unanimously supported this decision for the hospital as the right thing to do."

"You could fill an entire newspaper with the statistics on the negative effects of tobacco usage," said Sigler.  "Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, causing cancer, heart, and lung disease.  One of every five deaths annually, almost 450,000, is the result of cigarette smoking.  Of those, about 50,000 deaths are due to secondhand smoking.  The cost to the U.S. health care system for treatment of smoking-related conditions is just shy of $100 billion annually."

"Our goal was not to simply prevent tobacco usage on campus or force anyone to quit using tobacco products.   The mission of Bolivar Medical Center is to make our communities we serve healthier.  We chose to take a leadership role to offer assistance to those who want to lead a healthier lifestyle."

Thorough the Healthy Campus / Community Initiative, Delta State and Bolivar Medical Center are involved in numerous projects to promote the health and wellness of the citizens of Cleveland and surrounding communities in Bolivar County.

"Delta State has a responsibility to its students and employees to provide a safe and healthful environment," said Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Wayne Blansett.  "We are proud to partner with Bolivar Medical Center in implementing a tobacco-free campus policy.  This partnership will provide assistance to all students, faculty, and staff who want to quit using tobacco through free tobacco cessation programs offered by the medical center."

"Education and counseling will be provided on campus in the University Counseling and Student Health Center," Blansett continues.  "Providing a smoke-free/tobacco-free campus is another example of Delta State's commitment to student and employee wellness."

In order to assist employees of both organizations as well as the community at large who choose to try to kick the tobacco habit, Bolivar Medical Center now offers cessation courses through hospital employees trained as counselors.  These courses are open to the public, provided free of charge, and include the cost of medications, patches, and gum utilized in the individualized cessation plans.

"We started with a group of about 20 hospital employees to work through the various aspects of the program," explained Bob Wilbanks, BMC Pharmacy Director and cessation counselor.  "The quit-rate success that we are seeing for the employees in this program is amazing."

"There will be an intake session at the DSU Student Health Center on May 14 at 11:00 for a class that will meet at that time each Friday for six weeks," stated Wilbanks.  "We expect at least 20 people from Delta State to sign up for this session, but it is also open to anyone from the community who is interested.

There will also be an intake session for another six-week course beginning on May 20 at 5:30 in the hospital conference room.  Going forward we will announce additional courses which will be scheduled at various dates, times, and locations."

The transition to tobacco-free environments is a growing trend nation and statewide.  The majority of hospital and university campuses in Mississippi are becoming tobacco-free.  In Cleveland, Baxter Healthcare recently eliminated tobacco use on its property.

Mayor Billy Nowell applauded the announcement for additional tobacco-free institutions in the city.  "I wish Bolivar Medical Center and Delta State University the best on the tobacco-free initiative," stated Nowell.  "I am looking to the capable aldermen of Cleveland who are reviewing this issue for the citizens of Cleveland."

For more information regarding tobacco cessation courses, contact the ACT Tobacco Treatment Hotline at Bolivar Medical Center at 846-2468.

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