As of Jan. 1, 2014, no tobacco use of any kind will be permitted – inside or outside – on hospital property.
DCH properties include DCH Regional Medical Center, Northport Medical Center, Fayette Medical Center and Pickens County Medical Center.
The new policies will apply to all staff, patients, visitors, guests, vendors, volunteers, contractual workers and the general public, according to hospital officials.
"Our mission is to improve the health of the people and communities we serve," said Bryan Kindred, president/CEO of the Health System. "Making our campuses tobacco free is an important way to provide leadership in this effort."
Tobacco use remains the No. 1 cause of preventable and premature deaths nationwide, and secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals of which 50 are known carcinogens.
"We have a responsibility to eliminate health hazards and promote healthy lifestyle choices," Kindred said. "Going tobacco-free helps protect the community, staff, patients, families and guests from the harmful effects of tobacco use."
Kindred said DCH announced the tobacco-free policy a year ago. Employees have been provided with cessation support since the announcement. Patients will be provided with support and options after DCH hospitals go tobacco-free.
"We are not telling anyone, ‘You must quit smoking,’" Kindred said. "We are saying, ‘Don’t use tobacco at our hospitals.’"