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Eastern State Hospital to ban tobacco for patients

UPDATED: Sat., Sept. 16, 2017, 10:21 p.m.

The main building at Eastern State Hospital, photographed in 2016. The facility is going tobacco-free in order to improve health. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
The main building at Eastern State Hospital, photographed in 2016. The facility is going tobacco-free in order to improve health. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Patients at Eastern State Hospital will go tobacco-free in mid-November as the Medical Lake facility tries to improve health conditions on its campus. No smoking, no chewing, no vaping.

Like all public buildings, smoking is currently banned inside the hospital, said Kelly Stowe, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Social and Health Services. But there are a few places outside, beyond the 25-foot zone from doors or windows required by state law, where patients can go to smoke.

That all changes on Nov. 16, when Eastern will bar cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes for patients. Similar rules likely will be applied to staff in the future, but must be the subject of collective bargaining, Stowe said. But the number of places outside where staff will be allowed to smoke will be reduced.

“It’s a hospital,” Stowe said. “Hospitals should promote healthy lifestyles.”

Because tobacco is an addictive substance, patients will be offered nicotine gum and patches to help with their cravings.

Nov. 1 will be the last day that family or friends will be allowed to send tobacco products to a patient at Eastern, she added. After that, any such package will be returned to sender.


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