Thursday, October 1, 2009

Huddled masses

When hospitals restricted smoking some years ago, there was an unintended side effect.

Banning smoking on a hospital campus (such as at University Hospital) pushed smokers into huddled masses on public walkways just outside hospital jurisdiction. The result was a cloud of tobacco smoke - and an obstacle course - through which patients and visitors had to travel going to and from a hospital.

Thanks to a new county law, no smoking will be allowed within 100 feet of a hospital or its property. The bill was introduced by County Legislator Tom Buckle, passed by the legislature, and signed into law last week by County Executive Joanie Mahoney. Effective November 1, the law will be enforceable by a $50 fine.

With its large campus footprint, Community General has been able to keep smokers away from its entrances and adjacent walkways for years. The county law will allow the city hospitals to keep their walkways free of smokers, as well.

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