Hospital smokers

Dear Editor: Real estate is limited and because everyone’s rights should be upheld, cities constantly struggle to adhere to the norms of public policy that mandate a safe distance between schools, churches, family restaurants, banks, and shopping centers and places of adult entertainment. Over the years, the prurient interest has given way to the notion that the existence of grade schools and churches shouldn’t keep businesses from satisfying adult needs and desires.

Cities must deal with the fact that law-abiding residents, to various extents, want bars, nightclubs, casinos, strip clubs, smoke shops, hourly-rate motels, adult novelty stores, and pot dispensaries, even if their effects are ultimately deleterious to some residents. The issue of which sort of adult entertainment is permissible and where it could be located is settled through a mash of legal interpretations and public outcry and support. As one would expect, the usual result is that “bad” places are kept away from “good” places and life goes on.

What about the greater challenge of separating “bad” people from “good” places? As a case in point, a handful of employees at Downey’s PIH Health Hospital routinely take cigarette breaks on the corner nearest the emergency room ambulance entrance. Dressed in hospital garbs, these employees get their doses of nicotine in the unhealthiest and impractical way – by burning cigarettes. The employees prefer highly visible displays of their addiction over a more inconspicuous way made possible by nicotine patches, lozenges, and gums.

Fifty years ago, smokers were considered victims of cigarette companies but with all the facts today on how smoking harms and kills people, cigarette smokers should be considered “bad” people, especially when they work at a hospital and decide to smoke on the corner of its premises. This behavior smacks of the highest disrespect to the ailing patients and family members the employees interact with.

With an ordinance that says hospitals cannot employ cigarette smokers that are caught smoking at or near healthcare facilities, Downey would be leading the way on separating bad people from good places.

Dan Chantre




Published: Sept. 11, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 22