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Smoking prevalence and perspectives on smoking on campus by employees in Australian teaching hospitals

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Background: Cigarette smoking prevalence has been declining over decades in Western countries especially in higher socioeconomic groups. Employees of Australian hospitals span the socioeconomic spectrum, but there are few data on smoking prevalence from these workplaces. Because smoking is a health hazard, some argue that it should be banned on hospital premises, but employees' opinions appear not to have been widely canvassed. Cigarette smoking is a particular problem in hospitals because of the need for prolonged abstinence by immobile patients and the stressors that accompany life‐and‐death events for patients and/or relatives. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has had a Stop Smoking Service for >10 years, but how smoking prevalence has changed and how it compares with similar hospitals is unknown.

Aims: The aims of this study were (i) to determine smoking prevalence by employees of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and to compare this with employees of other hospitals and (ii) to ascertain employees' perspectives regarding smoking on hospital grounds.

Methods: Single page questionnaires were forwarded to employees of four South Australian/Northern Territory hospitals enquiring about smoking status, employment category, views about smoking on hospital premises, etc. Responses were voluntary.

Results: Response rates were 39–59%. Smoking prevalence has steadily declined at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and is now 8.4%. Prevalence at comparator hospitals was approximately double this value. Most staff thought the visibility of smoking was problematic, but support for providing smoking area/s was greater than for a hospital‐wide ban.

Conclusions: The ongoing decline in smoking prevalence at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital is probably the result of the Staff Stop Smoking Service.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1445-5994.2010.02221.x

Affiliations: Pharmacy Department, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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