PORTSMOUTH -- Naval Medical Center Portsmouth -- the hospital and the base - will go virtually tobacco-free in 2008.
"I think we are demonstrating our resolve to our patients and our staff by declaring the facility tobacco-free," said Rear Adm. Matthew Nathan, NMCP Commander.
The 17 designated smoking areas will be phased out beginning June 30. By November 20, there will be only two left and those will be for staff hired before July 1 and personnel who live in the barracks.
Anyone hired after June 30 will not be allowed to smoke on base.
On Nov. 20, patients, visitors and new NMCP and Navy Medicine East staff will not be permitted to use tobacco on base. Additionally, once the Navy Exchange sells its existing stock, tobacco products will not be sold on base.
"We are giving smokers a lot of advance notice to prepare for the new policy and hope they will reflect on their choice and make the decision to quit," said Cmdr. Ed Simmer, Director for Quality Management. "The hospital will increase the number of tobacco cessation classes for our military and civilian employees, and will also make medications to help with quitting available free with a doctor's prescription for our employees and patients trying to quit the habit. Our goal is to make the entire campus tobacco-free, and this is a very major step toward that goal." Simmer also noted that a recent survey of hospital staff showed strong support for making the base tobacco-free.NMCP's clinical buildings have been non-smoking since at least 1990.