October 8, 2013

MRMC renews efforts to reduce smoking


COLUMBIA, Tenn. – Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 443,000 American lives each year, including those affected indirectly, such as babies born prematurely due to prenatal maternal smoking and victims of second-hand exposure to tobacco’s carcinogens, according to the American Lung Association (ALA).

On a more local level, a recent assessment conducted by Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) indicates that tobacco products remain a serious health risk with 67.8 age-adjusted lung cancer deaths per 100,000 individuals in the region.

“This statistic places us in the worst quartile among more than 2,800 U.S. counties. The largest contributor to lung cancer is smoking. It is also the largest contributor to diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, stroke and a variety of other cancers,” said MRMC CEO Alan Watson.

While MRMC and its affiliate facilities have been tobacco-free since 2008, they are renewing their efforts to educate the public on the dangers of smoking and to improve the health, wellness and overall quality of life of the community by strictly enforcing this policy. According to Watson, they will begin educating employees, physicians, volunteers and the public concerning their renewed efforts during the month of October. Efforts will include additional signage and materials to communicate the policy to patients and visitors.

“Our goal is to ensure that everyone who visits one of our facilities is protected from the dangerous effects of tobacco products. As the regional leader in health care, it is our responsibility to prohibit smoking on the grounds of our facilities in an effort to protect everyone from the dangerous effects of smoking,” said Watson.

According to ALA, cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80-90 percent of COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) deaths. In addition, a study by the Centers for Disease Control indicates that smoking cost the United States over $193 billion in 2004, including $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in direct health care expenditures, or an average of $4,260 per adult smoker.