In the few days before the new year, many people will be thinking of their new year's resolutions, but some have already been planning one particular resolution that will affect everyone around them for the past two years.
Rockingham Memorial Hospital will be going tobacco-free January 1 to create a healthier environment for everyone on the campus. Smoking is a health risk, not just for the people who smoke cigarettes, but also for others who breathe the second-hand smoke.
"We don't want anyone to come here to visit, to be a patient, or to work here, that doesn't smoke to be subjected to the smoker, to the smoke, because it's an environmental issue," says Kim Stanchfield, the co-chair of RMH's Tobacco Task Force.
While the use of tobacco will no longer be allowed at the hospital's former smoking-designated areas, the tobacco task force found that most employees were happy their place of work would be forcing them to not smoke during their shift.
"A lot of the employees who smoke knew that they needed to do this anyway, and this was the incentive that they needed. This was the kick that they really needed to do it," says Stanchfield.
Even though employees are well aware of this new policy, patients and visitors may not be. That's why the hospital is providing signage and pamphlets to let everyone know that RMH is trying to provide them with a healthier environment.
"There will be signs posted as you enter the campus, as you enter the building, that type of thing. Also, whatever point that they register or come into, they'll be given that information as they register," says Stanchfield.
Even though RMH is not forcing employees to quit their habit, the hospital is offering services that could help them quit. If a patient needs to smoke, a doctor will provide them with nicotine therapies to help them get through.
While visitors won't get arrested for smoking in the parking lot, employees may go through a disciplinary process if they continue to violate the tobacco-free policy.