At least five Connecticut hospitals promised to go completely smoke-free Thursday as part of National Smoke Out Day. Employees, patients and visitors will not be able to smoke inside or outside the hospital buildings.
Bristol Hospital, Griffin Hospital, Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, Windham Community Memorial Hospital and Waterbury Hospital are participating. Connecticut health insurer Cigna also pledged to go smoke-free on Thursday.
The health care providers are trying to set an example and promote healthy habits in their communities, hospital managers said.
Cigna offered the same message.
"We're seeing restaurants go smokeless, we're seeing many environments go smokeless, and I think for what we stand for, it's an appropriate step," Vicki Pyne, a human resources manager at Cigna, said.
The smoke-free initiative coincides with the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout.
Waterbury Hospital and Cigna's smoking bans will officially kick in next year. In the meantime, the companies are providing support programs for its employees.
"I think, personally, it's going to be difficult for me. I think it's absolutely the right thing to do," John Park, a Cigna employee, said.
In 2003, state law prohibited smoking in bars and restaurants as well as inside any health care facility. The new smoke-free measures take it one step further and prevent smoking anywhere on hospital grounds or on Cigna's property.