American Cancer Society Recognizes Workplace Tobacco Program
"Live the Mission" is Sentara Healthcare’s slogan for its 100 percent tobacco free environment initiative. Appropriately named, the Tobacco Free Environment, or TFE, not only bans smoking but also prohibits smokeless tobacco products anywhere on campus.
Sentara Healthcare has earned the American Cancer Society "Excellence in Workplace Tobacco Control" award for its efforts. Dave Bernd, Sentara’s chief executive officer, states, "We are excited to be recognized by the American Cancer Society. We believe a Tobacco Free Environment sends the right message to our employees, patients, visitors and vendors. We believe Sentara’s mission, to improve health everyday, is best led by example."
Sentara’s Tobacco Free Environment program also offers a four-week education and support program titled "Get Off Your Butt! Stay Smokeless for Life!." The name is certainly attention grabbing, but what is more engaging is that the program focuses on the needs of each individual in their desire to quit smoking.
The program is open to all Sentara employees, as well as members of the Hampton Roads community. "Support buddies" are not only welcome but encouraged to attend. The classes offer in-depth explanations of nicotine addiction and the most effective ways to break the habit.
Employees who are not able to attend the classes are given a workbook and a self help CD to help guide them through the quitting stages. They are also given nicotine patches at cost, nicotine gum and incentives to quit through Sentara’s health and prevention program, Mission: Health.
Employees can continue to engage in services, even after they have completed the program. Additionally, the program is free of charge and is offered multiple times a year, at various locations, to make it easily accessible for all employees.
Alverine Mack, TFE coordinator, credits the TFE staff for the program’s success. "The entire team has done a tremendous job," she says. "It’s estimated that about 49,000 people die each year from second hand smoke. By implementing the TFE program, Sentara is actively trying to improve the health of it’s campus for all who come here."