The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance is smoke-free as of January 1, 2018. Photo courtesy of CKHA official website.

CKHA Now Officially Smoke-Free

Like every health organization in Ontario, the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance is now smoke-free.

As of New Year’s Day, the use of smoking products is not allowed on any CKHA property. The new regulations cover existing smoking shelters, bus stops, parking lots, hospital grounds, the property at 47 Emma St. and the Foundation of CKHA.

“This new provincial legislation helps protect our patients, families, visitors, staff and the public from the hazards of second-hand smoke,” says CKHA President and CEO Lori Marshall in a statement. “As health care providers, we at CKHA fully support this direction and will introduce the necessary policies and supports to implement this change.”

Previously, smokers were permitted to light up in designated smoking areas or in areas that are at least nine metres away from hospital entrances. Those smoking areas are gone. The Wallaceburg and Chatham campuses no longer have the dedicated smoking gazebos, and the signage will be removed. However, the donated gazebo at the Wallaceburg campus remains since it has never been part of a smoking area.

CKHA security personnel will have the authority to ticket people violating the new rule. The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit’s tobacco enforcement officer will have the final say on charges. Fines could begin at $175 and go up to $5,000.

The health alliance understands that the new smoking regulations may cause issues for surrounding neighbourhoods, since smokers will have to leave the campus. CKHA is informing residents living close to its hospitals of the new regulations and will ask smokers to be respectful of people’s private property.

Hospital officials will become proactive in offering smoking cessation programs to patients as well as staff.