In 2004, SSM Health Care became the largest health-care system to date to go tobacco free when its facilities in four states eliminated tobacco use Ė both inside and out.
SSMís move to go tobacco-free was praised by then U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, former Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona and health-care organizations including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association. Hospitals in Missouri and Oklahoma followed SSMís lead.
The conversion to a smoke-free environment involved developing materials for patients and visitors about the initiative; developing physician protocols for patients who smoke; reimbursing employees for smoking cessation classes; and offering smoking-cessation pharmaceutical benefits to employees covered by an SSM medical plan. SSM offers employees who declare they are tobacco-free a taxable $60 reimbursement annually provided they are participants in SSM's health-care medical plans.
"As a health-care organization, we firmly believe that we must offer the healthiest environment possible for our patients, employees and visitors," Sister Mary Jean Ryan, FSM, SSM Health Care Chair/CEO said in announcing the initiative.