WALLA WALLA, Wash.—The first of the year you won't be able to smoke at two Walla Walla hospitals. They are going tobacco free.
Smoking has been banned at all public locations and places of employment in Washington State since 2005. Now General Hospital and Providence Saint Mary Medical Center are joining in on the ban January 1st.
"Tobacco causes cancer, it promotes illness, and disease. We should be tobacco free as a way to encourage both the community and our own staff to be healthier," says Kathleen Obenland, Providence Saint Mary Medical Center.
The Washington State Department of Health says almost 11% of people in Walla Walla County smoke. That's about $12.4 million in healthcare and lost wages every year.
"Some patients will roll down stairs with their IV polls and smoke outside of the hospital," says Obenland.
So far, the hospitals have only heard positive feedback.
Until the ban goes into effect, they are setting up free classes to help smokers quit and spreading awareness.