FORT RUCKER, Ala. (December 13, 2012) -- Victoria Knighton, a nurse's aide during the 1960s, recalled a time when employees and patients alike were permitted to smoke inside the patient hospital room. Smoking in the hallways of a medical treatment facility was also considered normal.

Today, Knighton, a community health nurse at Lyster Army Health Clinic, said social changes and reforms have come a long way to increasing our health by banning smoking in buildings, especially medical facilities.

"We still have a long way to go," she said. "We shouldn't be using tobacco products at all."

Throughout the U.S. Army Medical Command, several military treatment facilities are currently designated as tobacco-free campuses. The use of tobacco products is not permitted anywhere on the facilities premises.

"I wouldn't be surprised if MEDCOM made tobacco-free facilities a standard at all health care facilities," she said. "The arena is changing from smoking and smokeless tobacco to a complete tobacco-free arena, we need to keep our patients' best health in mind."

In 2009, Alabama had the fifth highest smoking rate in the nation, according to the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Alabama.

Alabama legislation recently passed a statewide law prohibiting smoking on any Alabama health department campus to include hospitals and clinics, Knighton said.

An estimated 3,400 non-smokers die from lung cancer each year from secondhand smoke, according to the American Cancer Society. Secondhand smoke also contributes to health problems in both children and adults including respiratory conditions, heart problems and frequent ear infections for children living with secondhand smoke in the home.

"With the increased education on secondhand smoke and its detrimental long-term effects, clinics are starting to make the switch to help keep their patients healthy," Knighton said.

Lyster is ready to help those who wish to quit smoking by offering smoking cessation courses. Everyone is eligible to participate in the classes. Currently, Soldiers, their Family members and retirees who have a military ID card can receive anti-smoking medications.

The four-session course meets every Thursday. For more information, call 255-9908 or visit Bldg. 5700, Rm. 230 to sign up.

Page last updated Thu December 13th, 2012 at 10:36