NMC Commentary

Does NMC’s “Tobacco Free Campus” Policy Include Vaping & Cannabis?

Yes, it does now.  As part of our efforts to create an environment that supports a healthier future for all, NMC has just approved an updated and expanded “Tobacco and Cannabis Free Campus” policy.  Our new policy wording says, “Tobacco use of any kind (including the use of electronic cigarettes, Juul, and vaping devices) and the smoking of cannabis (marijuana) is not permitted anywhere on NMC property.”

The 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment for Franklin and Grand Isle Counties is now complete and available on the NMC website at: www.northwesternmedicalcenter.org/about-nmc/hospital-data/community-assessments.  It identifies smoking and vaping as one of the seven top health concerns in our community.  While we have achieved very positive reductions in youth smoking over the past ten years, the recent vaping (e-cigarettes, Juul, etc.) trend is very concerning.  Their marketers would have you believe it is a healthy habit and it is not.  There are significant concerns about safety and addiction.  The science shows that the vapor of e-cigarettes contains harmful ingredients, including addictive nicotine.  We also know youth are particularly susceptible to deceptive or manipulative marketing.  “Teens are clearly attracted to the marketable technology and flavorings seen in vaping devices; however, it is urgent that teens understand the possible effects of vaping on overall health; the development of the teen brain; and the potential for addiction,” said Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  “Research tells us that teens who vape may be at risk for transitioning to regular cigarettes, so while we have celebrated our success in lowering their rates of tobacco use in recent years, we must continue aggressive educational efforts on all products containing nicotine.”

I appreciate the attention the Governor and the Vermont Legislature have given the growing concerns over vaping and e-cigarettes.  I believe public policy regulating the use of these harmful, addictive products is worthy of tri-partisan support.  As RiseVT works to create the conditions in our communities where the healthy choice is easy choice, establishing healthy policies is a key and lasting strategy which helps encourage positive lifestyle change.  I am always pleased when our elected officials act with the health of Vermonters in mind.

In addition to RiseVT’s prevention efforts relating to smoking, NMC’s Lifestyle Team helps individuals quit smoking – and vaping.  If you, or someone you know, is interested in removing tobacco and vaping from their life, please refer them to Northwestern Lifestyle at 524-1227.  We offer smoking cessation assistance and support in alignment with the resources at www.802quits.org.

Thank you for understanding that the hospital is a center for health and wellness in our community and refraining from smoking – whether that is cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, vaping devices, or cannabis — on any hospital property.  This is an important step forward as we come together as a community to embrace healthier lifestyles.

— Jill Berry Bowen, RN, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer