(Lawton, OK) – Southwestern Medical Center announces plans to implement a new tobacco-free policy at all facilities, effective November 20, 2014.  It is the same day that of the annual Great American Smokeout.  The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

Hospital leaders say the new policy reflects the health system’s mission: “We are eliminating tobacco-use on our properties to provide a healthy and safe environment for employees, patients and visitors and to promote positive health behaviors,” said Steve Hyde, Chief Executive Officer.

Under the new tobacco free environment policy all facilities, campuses, and properties that are owned or leased by Southwestern Medical Center shall be tobacco-free, inside and outside.  Specifically, this means the use of any tobacco product that is not a FDA approved nicotine delivery device is prohibited in facilities or on properties of Southwestern.

It has been 50 years since the Surgeon General first declared that tobacco use is a major health hazard. Yet, tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death and disability, according to the Center for Disease Control and Oklahoma State Department of Health. Also, tobacco use retards wound healing and is a driver of hospital readmission rates. “The hospital is taking proactive steps to prevent the disease and disability associated with tobacco use, which is a good thing”, said Dinah Lazarte, Chief Quality Risk Officer.

Three-fourths of all tobacco-users say they want to quit and the hospital will be implementing evidence based practices to help patients and employees quit tobacco. According to Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, “Taking just a few minutes to talk to patients about smoking can double their odds of successfully quitting.” Clinicians and their staff can play an incredibly important role in helping smokers move from thinking about quitting to taking real steps toward successful quitting.”

While you are a patient or visitor at Southwestern Medical Center, staff can suggest ways to ease nicotine withdrawal symptoms and if you are ready to quit, trained professionals will help you.

Southwestern Medical Center team members will help inform visitors and patients about the new policy. These efforts are central to make Southwestern an excellent place to work and to receive health care.

About Southwestern Medical Center

Southwestern Medical Center, a member of Capella Healthcare’s family of hospitals, is a 199-bed hospital serving Comanche County and SW Oklahoma.  Since 1957, SWMC has been accredited by Joint Commission.  The Neuroscience Center is the first and only accredited Primary Stroke Program in SW Oklahoma by Joint Commission. SWMC is also accredited by CARF for rehabilitation services.  The Sleep Disorder Center at Southwestern is the first and only accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.  Southwestern Medical Center has been serving the community for more than 100 years with quality care and the latest technology.  For more information, please visit www.swmconline.com.