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BMC's neighbors say hospital smoking ban has brought smoke, trash to neighborhood

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  July 25, 2012 04:39 PM

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bmc-smoking.jpgBoston Medical Center's recently imposed smoking ban is frustrating South End residents, who say smokers leaving the hospital's campus bring smoke to the neighborhood and leave trash on its streets.

Residents who live near the hospital say that since the hospital and the Boston University Medical Campus banned all employees, visitors, and patients from smoking anywhere on their properties, they have seen more smokers lighting up outside their windows and leaving their cigarette butts on the sidewalks.

Now, some want the institutions to revise the no-smoking policy to include a designated area or shelter on their campuses where people can smoke away from the neighborhood.

“The BMC has to realize they are interlocked with this community and they are responsible for being as concerned about our health as they claim they are concerned about health on their campus,” Cinda Stoner, a neighborhood resident, said at the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association's monthly meeting Tuesday.

Residents said East Brookline and East Springfield streets had become especially popular for smokers, and raised concerns about litter and the effects of secondhand smoke wafting into their windows.

Stoner said she recently counted 19 cigarette butts left on her street in a three-hour period.

In a written statement, the hospital said it was committed to working to resolve the incidents.

"We are aware of the neighbors' concerns and are working hard to enforce the smoke-free initiative via ongoing staff communications and on walk-rounds throughout the campus and neighborhood," the statement read.

"We sincerely apologize that this smoke-free initiative and the actions of a small number of people are negatively impacting our neighbors."

The nearly 20 residents at the association meeting said they would like the hospital to establish a smoking area away from the neighborhood.

Three residents volunteered to draft a letter on behalf of the neighborhood association requesting the hospital to establish smoking areas or shelters away from the neighborhood in a reasonable amount of time.

The association plans to send the letters to the heads of the medical center and B.U.'s medical campus, the Boston Public Health Commission, and the mayor's office.

The hospital’s ban is part of the city’s Tobacco-Free Hospital initiative Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced late last year that is supported by the Boston Alliance for Community Health, the Massachusetts Hospital Association, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals.

The initiative, which has a total of 10 participating hospitals, calls for the hospitals to institute smoking bans, offer cessation benefits to employees trying to quit, and screen patients for tobacco use, among other policies.

At least one of the participating hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital, has two smoking shelters on North Grove Street and Blossom Street.
Twitter: @Your_SouthEnd

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