They're not just blowing smoke; local hospitals are serious about being tobacco-free.
Beginning Jan. 1 Firelands Regional Medical Center will expand its tobacco-free policy to include all outdoor properties and all buildings that are part of the Firelands health system. All forms of tobacco, even smokeless, will be prohibited on sidewalks, parking lots and even in cars while parked in the lots.
The new policy applies to everyone -- staff, patients, visitors, guests, vendors, volunteers, contractual workers and the general public.
"It was our intention to create a healthier environment here at the hospital for our patients and employees," said Jim Sennish, vice president of human resources for Firelands.
People who violate the new policy, especially staff, will be subject to the hospital's progressive discipline policy, Sennish said.
Catherine Goodsite, 77, of Sanford, Fla., has been smoking for 61 years. She started when she was 16.
Originally from Norwalk, Goodsite was at Firelands this week visiting her sister, who was recently diagnosed with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Goodsite said she'd be happy to abide by the tobacco-free policy.
"But how many people will break the law? Most people aren't as nice as me. They aren't going to walk across the street. I obey the laws on smoking," she said. "If they say you can't smoke here, I'll go out to the sidewalk."
Eighty-eight of Ohio's 170 hospitals, including The Bellevue Hospital, Fisher-Titus Medical Center, H.B. Magruder Memorial Hospital, St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo and The Cleveland Clinic, will have enacted tobacco-free campus policies by Jan. 1.
Ohio hospitals are "definitely taking the lead" on eliminating tobacco use on campus, said Tiffany Himmelreich, spokeswoman for the Ohio Hospital Association.
"Hospitals that are enacting tobacco-free policies are really taking on a leadership role in their community," Himmelreich said.
While there is no state law requiring hospital campuses to be completely tobacco-free, Himmelreich said the Ohio Hospital Association supports hospitals that enact such policies.
"I think people look to hospitals to be places of healing," said Michael Winthrop, CEO of The Bellevue Hospital.
The Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio set Jan. 1 as the date for the participating hospitals to enact the policy, said Deb Reed, director of marketing and public relations at Fisher-Titus.
Many of the hospitals, including Firelands, Bellevue and Fisher-Titus, have smoking cessation programs in place for staff, patients and the community.