Karl Gills: Tobacco free


— More than 45 years ago, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office declared that smoking is hazardous to health. Yet this behavior remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death and disability in our country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Effective Jan. 1, 2010, Yampa Valley Medical Center will take a proactive step to become 100 percent tobacco free on our campus. The tobacco ban will apply to all patients, employees, medical staff members, volunteers and visitors. YVMC joins 45 hospitals across Colorado, including The Memorial Hospital in Craig, in prohibiting tobacco use on hospital property.

This means that as of Jan. 1, no tobacco use of any kind will be permitted inside or outside the hospital, the Doak Walker Care Center, GrandKids Child Care Center or the Medical Office Building. Parking lots and all surrounding YVMC-owned property are included in this ban.

As a health care provider, YVMC’s primary goal is to promote and protect health. By eliminating tobacco use on our property and collaborating with the tenants of the Medical Office Building, we seek to encourage positive health behaviors.

We recognize the challenges that many individuals face in breaking the addiction to nicotine. We are not telling anyone that they must quit smoking, but we are saying that we will not allow tobacco use on our property.

There are nicotine alternatives that may be available to our patients, if approved by a patient’s physician. Physicians and our YVMC care team will provide tobacco-dependence treatment for patients to assist in nicotine withdrawal during a hospital stay.

Anyone who wants to quit using tobacco can contact our hospital-based outpatient Nicotine Counseling services at 871-2392 or the Colorado Tobacco Quit Line at 800-QUIT-NOW.

As a health care organization, we appreciate cooperation with this important step toward improved community health. Anyone with questions about this policy change is welcome to contact Lisa Bankard, director of wellness and community education, at 871-2500 for more information.

Karl Gills

Chief Executive Officer, Yampa Valley Medical Center


blue_spruce 7 years, 4 months ago

Question: if we can change behavior that is so destructive to our population, and a huge drain on our health care system (like smoking) – and we have done an amazing job at this (keep it up) – how come it is so taboo to talk about destructive eating? McDonald's, Taco Bell, etc. are literally killing our citizens every day. And the burden that they place on out struggling health care system is enormous. Where is the tax on this lifestyle choice? Just like smoking, I don't think that anyone wants to “ban” the habit, but we have to get our population to make healthier choices. Any thoughts?


Brian Kotowski 7 years, 4 months ago


It's none of your (or a nanny state's) business what I choose to eat, drink, or smoke. If you're truly concerned about "behavior that is so destructive to our population", where will you draw the line? How about driving?

In 2005 (the most recent year for which I could find the stats) there were nearly 6.5 million accidents, resulting in 2.9 million injuries, 42,643 dead, and $230 billion in financial losses.

Skiing and boarding are dangerous, too. So are football and mountain climbing and bicycling and sailing and hunting and martial arts and swimming in the ocean. Let's impose punitive taxes on all of it! Hell, let's not pussyfoot around - let's go all the way like the Taliban did in Afghanistan, and dispatch government thugs to beat the sh%t out of people who engage in activities not sanctioned by the state.

I choose to smoke cigars and drink scotch and eat red meat and get kicked in the head by black belts who are better than me. Anyone who disapproves can call their mommy and have a good cry.


Jeff_Kibler 7 years, 4 months ago

Blue Spruce: in one case you are concerned about "destructive eating." McDonald's et al.


In another case vis-a-vis illegal drugs you state "if people want to pollute their bodies, then its their loss!!"


So, are you a nannyist regarding food, but laissez faire when it comes to illegal drugs?


JLM 7 years, 4 months ago

The issue is behavior on THEIR property. You make the rules on YOUR property and they make the rules on THEIR property. As an invitee, follow the rules. Seems simple enough.


blue_spruce 7 years, 4 months ago


yeah - i think that we need to stop spending billions fighting for prohibition of drugs. wasteful spending. this does not mean that i don't want to try and curb their use, as far as it effects our health care costs.

and yes, i do think that we need to tax unhealthy food establishments like mcdonalds, in order to change people's eating behavior. it is working for smoking, right?. in fact we should tax all drugs like we do alcohol and cigarettes, and put that $$ towards behavior prevention, not fighting a loosing war....and as far as taxing bulls**t food, I cannot see why it is any different then drugs and alcohol. I'm sick of paying more and more in health insurance premiums!! if you want to live a crap lifestyle, fine. but I should not have to pay the tab!

finally, Sep, last time I checked there were plenty of laws regulating driving. and if yo get in accidents, you pay more as a result...as far as extreme sports etc., that you mentioned, as far as I know these activities do not have any measurable impact on health care costs in our country. obesity / diabetes / heart disease / cancer / etc. do! you are missing the point. If someone wants to kill himself through drug abuse, smoking, drinking or eating extremely unhealthy food – fine, go right ahead!! i should NOT have to pay for these poor decisions, though.


Jeff_Kibler 7 years, 4 months ago

JLM - A patient is not an invitee, but a customer.

Spruce - We agree! I should NOT have to pay the tab for your health care, education, retirement, food, shelter, etc.


JLM 7 years, 4 months ago

@ JK ---

Distinction without any legal difference, witness:

"invitee n. a person who comes onto another's property, premises or business establishment upon invitation. The invitation may be direct and express or "implied," as when a shop is open and the public is expected to enter to inspect, purchase or otherwise do business on the premises."

A patient is an invitee or customer of the hospital subject to a direct or express or implied invitation from the hospital to the prospective patient or customer.


Zed 7 years, 4 months ago

blue_spruce, I would say look at the root problem that is making all of that fast food garbage artificially cheap, government subsidized corn. If our industrial food system was not fueled by endless corn production we would be paying real prices for real food. Instead we have built a system that thrives on one thing, cheap corn, from industrial beef feed lots to HFCS being used in everything from my peanut butter to my toothpaste. We want it cheap even if there are bigger costs outside of our own little bubbles. Health, environment, ethics all get pushed aside because people want quad stacker burgers for $3. Chickens without beaks pumped full of antibiotics? Who cares, you can't tell me what I should not eat. It should be everyone's concern what food choices people have instead of adopting the ignorance of "my right to do WTFIW". Maybe if more individual people would take a stake in bigger issues there might be some accountability in the world.

There are winners and losers, who wins when people buy lots of fast food? Maybe the reason our country spends the most on health care in the world but gets a minimal return in life expectancy is because we have to keep people like Sep alive because he does not give a damn what anybody thinks.


JLM 7 years, 4 months ago

You are absolutely right as it relates to the issue of the role of the government in the subsidy of all types of agricultural products.

We have great parts of our country which wrestle with the sufficiency of the food supply while the government subsidizes corporate farms.

We have expensive ethanol added to every gallon of gasoline which both accelerates engine wear and increases the cost of a gallon of gas.

This is all corn crop politics. This is why Iowa should not have the role it does in elective Presidential politics as the first primary in the country.


Chuck McConnell 7 years, 3 months ago


You ask for "any thoughts", well here is one: If you hate fast food so much, I suggest you simply stay away from McDonalds and Taco Bell. There, wasn't that easy.

That is called freedom. But you and your obvious desire for an omnipotent government that taxes everything you do not think is appropriate should keep out of the lives of others. Who gave you or your government the power to restrain the freedom of others just because you thought about it one day and decided that other people should not do something? Take a look at the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and let us know where that is a right of government. Those documents clearly demanded freedom over government opression.

Government has appropriatly "banned" murder, rape, theft and many other crimes that impinge upon the rights and freedoms of others. But if I choose to eat a double quarter pounder with cheese you and your government have absolutely no right to tax me for that choice.

Oh, sure, you will argue that health care costs go up because people do not eat what you want them to eat but if you are really concerned about health care costs why don't you crusade for tort reform. Americans overwhelmingly favor tort reform (while hundreds of millions of Americans vote with their pocket books every day with trips to McDonalds and Taco Bell) and the abolition of stupid, costly lawsuits that do little more than build 28,000 square foot homes for politician/lawyers like the poster boy of the progressives, John Edwards.

If the progressives ban or tax things you want banned, how are you going to like it when the political right returns to power and bans something you like? Will you then demand freedom?

Why not just embrace freedom and reject your notion of the bliss of central control?


kathy foos 7 years, 3 months ago

What happens to the emoloyee who has to wait a twelve hour shift to go home and smoke?You can say they shouldnt be smoking anyway,pushing your morals onto them,it is a free country and the are legal to use,That just doesnt seem to be right that they are legal federally and people get hooked on them and then a hospital persecutes people in the parking lots for it or fires an employee for sneeking out to smoke.Creating extreme conditions for smokers to deal with.Stress at having a loved one under care at the hospital and then you have to drive to the city market parking lot for a smoke?Seems cruel and unusual to me.Make the cigs illegal for all or leave people alone that want to smoke ,Not giving people a legal recourse to consume a legal substance sounds like a lawsuit could be filled.I wonder how many preservatives are served up in the kitchen,toxic chemicals the employees are working with,does the hospital care about the excess radiation that workers must endure ,or the toxic waste they are subject to,what about the mental trauma of deaths on employees and patient and visitors?Point is there is alot of danger and stress at the hospital and people who smoke are going to be there too,since its a legal substance,maybe workers will go through withdrauls before the get home to smoke? That could effect the work they do and is cruel and unusual punishment.


callguinness 7 years, 3 months ago

Sun... Please...

This is a "free" country. Cruel and unusual punishment refers to people who are incarcerated and forced to stay in one place.

Lets start with the employes. They have a choice to not work for YVMC anymore if they feel this new policy is unfair. They had quite a lot of time of heads up, more than 30 days, that this new policy was going into effect. Nobody if forced to work there. If they really want to they can give notice and leave if they feel that is the best for them.

Second the patients. Once again nobody if forcing them to use YVMC, if they feel this policy is such a hardship they can go to a different hospital. They are not prisoners there and are free to leave and find a different place to receive care.

Lastly, for the hospital caring about their employes. I believe they do, I don't work there, however I do spend a fair amount of time there. The radiology department all wear tag that monitor their exposer to radiation and it even adds it up over time. All the chemicals are labeled as to how to use them safely and how to dispose of them. The hospital does follow these procedures. The hospital has one of the best benefits packages in this part of the state. This includes mental health visits for staff who are having trouble dealing with any stressful part of the job. As well as providing mental health councilors to patients and family members who are struggling with any of the stresses of a hospital visit.


JLM 7 years, 3 months ago

@ nobody in particular ---

The issue of tort reform is a very interesting issue. It is obviously the low hanging fruit in the health care equation and much of tort reform is simply focused on the percentage of a "real" damage award which is diverted to a trial lawyer who has taken a case on contingency.

Remember these awards --- often as much as 55% of the award for damages --- are a portion of the rightful damages awarded to the victim. The funds are then not available to the victim.

Why, you say? Because the trial lawyer has the greatest motivation to seek "pain and suffering" damages which while legitimate are typically purely punitive. This is why ambulance chasing trial lawyers --- like John Edwards --- engage in such theatrical junk science histrionics to get juries to punish rather than award rightful damages.

This is one step removed from the Irish Sweepstakes. It is a bet on the sympathy and stupidity of the jury and the willingness to "blame" the institutions or wealthy doctors or insurance companies for everything.

How terrible would it really be for contingency lawyers if they only received the equivalent of $250/hr or if medical malpractice cases were settled by "expedited" arbitration in accordance with the American Aribtration Association's rules?

Arbitration is typically substantially less costly, more timely (expedited arbitration mandates a quicker resolution) and not appealable. Arbitration also typically foreces the parties to "mediate" first which provides even a quicker resolution.

The medical profession is simply nuts not to mandate binding arbitration as a dispute resolution technique. This is exactly what the securities industry provides for in its standard brokerage account agreements. Ask a stockbroker if you can really sue him or his firm and see what the fine print tells you.

The disingenuousness of the administration and Congress can be seen in the fact that the current health care legislation not only does not entertain any tort reform, it actually penalizes any state which independently provides for state District Court tort reform.

That's right --- the current unread and secret health care reform benefits and rewards ambulance chasing trial lawyers rather than providing legitimate tort reform.

All that "hoax and chains" stuff at work, no?


noname642 7 years, 3 months ago

So, in response to Sun. I work at the hospital, and I am a smoker. We had more than a month's notice that the hospital was going to become smoke free. Sure, at first the idea kind of sucked, but then as we started learning more information about it...it didn't seem like such a bad idea. Most hospitals now-a-days are smoke free anyways. If a staff member or a patient's family member wants to smoke, it is not a long drive to the bottom of the hill. That's a personal decision that we all make. Now that all the staff cannot smoke...it's actually easier from day-to-day to not go outside and light one up. I think the hospital made a good move in doing it, the hospital will look cleaner, employees will smell better, etc.

I think before you go assuming that the hospital doesn't care about their employees, you look into it. You just make yourself look ignorant going off about something that you have no idea about.


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