MUHC bans smoking and vaping on hospital grounds

MONTREAL – Lighting up a cigarette on hospital grounds will soon be a thing of the past.

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC)  announced Wednesday that as of November 1, smoking and vaping will be banned on the MUHC Glen site.

“Smoke and vape-free at the MUHC is not gonna be easy,” said Dr.Charles Sounan, Chair of the MUHC Wellness Committee. “This is going to be difficult, it’s going to be tough, but we will succeed.”

But smokers won’t be left out in the cold.

All smokers and recent ex-smokers admitted to the MUHC will be offered support programs and medication for nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

The Smoking Cessation Program, located at the Montreal Chest Institute is also available to all outpatients.

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Something that the MUHC’s president and executive director, Normand Rinfret,  has experienced first hand.

“It’s not easy, it’s difficult,” said Rinfret. “But at the end of the day, you really have to look at the benefits and what it could provide to other people around you.”

The MUHC wants to reassure smokers that implementation will happen progressively, so they will set up a temporary shelter near the entrance of the Royal Victoria Hospital for one year.

“We believe that the main goal of this is to provide as much support as we can to our people,” said Sounan. “But we also believe that the best decision for our people to make is to stop smoking.”

But not everyone agrees.

“I have a patient that’s paralyzed and he cannot go off the grounds with the hospital chair, so he’s limited to where he can go,” one employee told Global News. “So I don’t find it’s right.”

Visitors say they understand, but believe they should still have a space to smoke.

“It’s okay for the patients who are sick, but it’s not cool for the smokers. Where are we going to smoke,” asked one hospital visitor.

Similar bans will come into effect at other MUHC sites in the new year:

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  • January 4, 2016: Montreal General Hospital
  • March 1, 2016: Montreal Neurological Hospital and Allan Memorial Institute
  • May 2, 2016: Lachine Hospital and Camille-Lefebvre Pavilion

The new policy will apply to all patients, employees and visitors.