Congratulations to the City of Alexandria and the Southern University System on promoting better health and longer life with their recent decision to ban tobacco use.
The City of Alexandria passed its ordinance banning smoking in all enclosed places of employment, as well as within 25 feet of entrances and windows of those buildings, city property and playgrounds.
The ordinance also bans smoking in all outdoor entertainment venues and places of employment.
The Southern Board of Supervisors banned all tobacco products in all buildings, facilities, dormitories, athletic fields and parking lots on all of its campuses across the state.
This is an encouraging trend.
Last April, the Ochsner Health System banned the use of tobacco products on all properties including eight hospitals and 38 health centers. Our 850 hysicians, 12,500 employees, patients and visitors can no longer smoke on campus as all designated smoking areas have been removed.
We are living up to the tradition of our founder, Dr. Alton Ochsner, who discovered the link between tobacco use and lung cancer, by adopting the ban.
Many other healthcare facilities and other businesses across the nation are adopting imilar smoke free work environments.
They are doing so for a very simple reason. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.
In Louisiana, 6,500 residents will die from smoking this year. An additional 1,000 more people will die from exposure to secondhand smoke.
Thousands more will die from smoking-related diseases. In fact, more deaths are caused by tobacco use than by all deaths from alcohol use, illegal drug use, HIV, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined.
It is crucial that people no longer compromise on health.
At Ochsner, we understand that individuals may need help to quit smoking.
Our staff provides support, information, and encouragement for employees and atients seeking to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Again, we here at Ochsner commend the leaders of City of Alexandria and the Southern University System for putting the health of the communities they serve first.
Employees can work, students can learn and children can play in healthier environments.
We encourage other businesses, cities and universities to join this growing trend and adopt smoke free workplaces.
Patrick J. Quinlan, M.D, is chief executive officer of Oschner Health System.