Council proposal would ban smoking on public grounds outside private hospitals

Monday, March 5, 2012 at 2:40pm

Cigarette smokers hoping to get their fix outside a Nashville hospital could soon be out of luck.

A proposed Metro Council ordinance would ban smoking on all hospital property and public rights of way — including city sidewalks — within 50 feet of a hospital entrance in Davidson County.

As outlined in the bill, some hospitals have provided Metro written requests to extend the ban to prohibit smoking within 200 feet of entrances. They are: Vanderbilt University Medical Center (including Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital); St. Thomas Hospital; and Baptist Hospital.

“It’s not necessarily great for a patient to walk into a hospital and have to go past a crowd of folks who are standing on the sidewalk smoking,” Councilwoman Burkley Allen, the bill’s lead sponsor, told The City Paper.

“It’s just an attempt to extend their smoking bans — institutions that are dedicated to helping keep people healthy,” she said.

The hospital smoking ban is set for to go before the council for the first of three votes Tuesday, March 6.

According to the council’s attorney Jon Cooper, a smoker who violates the hospital smoking restriction could be subject to a $50 fine. The legislation says signs are to be posted in areas where smoking is banned.

Allen, a first-term councilwoman who represents the Vanderbilt area, said hospital officials approached her about introducing the legislation. Her bill follows a new state law that authorizes local municipalities to enact smoking bans in areas immediately outside a hospital.

Allen said Nashville hospitals already ban smoking on hospital property. Effectively, her proposal would apply the ban to public grounds that border a hospital’s property. “This just gives them the authority to bring [the ban] out to the sidewalk,” she said.

John Howser, assistant vice chancellor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said several years ago Vanderbilt’s medical center instituted a policy that set boundaries around the medical campus to define where people could smoke and where they couldn’t.

 

Under the university’s smoking ban, he said the medical center’s eastern border is 21st Avenue and the southern boundary is Blakemore Avenue. The northern and western boundaries overlap with the university’s campus, he said.

“What we’re having difficulty with are areas at the edge of or just within these boundaries, where we’re having difficulty patrolling or maintaining safe zones for our patients,” Howser said. “That’s where this legislation seeks to give us some additional authority.” 

 

Council members Jason Holleman and Edith Langster, who both have hospitals in their districts, are co-sponsoring the bill.

“Obviously, smoking isn’t good for human health, and hospitals of all places should be places that help people get better, not get sick,” Holleman said.

14 Comments on this post:

By: BenDover on 3/5/12 at 4:02

Nazis.

By: HCPforme on 3/5/12 at 5:46

So who enforces the new ordinance? VUPD does not enforce the current restriction ON private VUMC property now, in particular the garage across from the main entrance to VUH. Which brings up another question, will the new ordinance require signs noting "You are within 200 feet of a Hospital Entrance, Smoking forbidden by City Ordinance."? There are already signs that say no smoking on the sidewalk (over 50 feet from the entrance), I guess those are just wishful thinking. What about folks driving on Medical Center drive, they will be within 200 ft of the entrance at some point, will they be ticketed too, if not, why not?

Patients SMOKE. Their Visitors SMOKE. Give them a place to smoke because they will do it anyway.

By: spooky24 on 3/6/12 at 4:20

Is this really all they have to do? How about a backyard duck bill. Pitiful.

sp

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By: govskeptic on 3/6/12 at 6:52

Vandy can't get enough of themselves and their power in this city.
Instead of banning smoking on these public sidewalks paid for
by all the taxpayers, how about they "buy at fair market value"
these streets and then maintain them. Rep. Langster draws
her Metro retirement, councilmatic pay, health benefits, and
does nothing all yr except co-sponsor junk bills like this!

By: Rocket99 on 3/6/12 at 7:37

Hurray for this! I think they need to do an ordinance banning smoking in all restaurants and bars period.

This is more productive than our State officials outlawing camping because they don't want to see the people.

In general, none of the elected bodies at whatever level really tackle the hard issues head on. They'd rather do things like these.

By: willtw on 3/6/12 at 7:45

How about an ordinance banning Council from making dumb laws, taking more than 3 breathes a minute contaminating the air around town, or from taking bribes to pass law to benefit their benefactors?

By: yucchhii on 3/6/12 at 11:20

yucchhii I believe this is carrying things just a bit too far! Ok, I understand if a patient is walking by a bunch of people that are smoking, it's not a good thing for that patients potential health situation, that of course would normally be at the EMERGENCY entrance...so extend the ban nearby the EMERGENCY entrance!!! Leave the rest of the area ALONE! Personally, I don't smoke that much to be worried about it, HOWEVER, this intrudes on the rights of EVERY individuel that has a CHOICE to make. Regardless if smoking is not a healthy thing, the person has the right to make that choice. To include sidewalks OUTSIDE the areas of the EMERGENCY entrance is OUTSIDE the ballpark. Lets get the rules back INSIDE the ballpark. Just like P.E.T.A...I appreciate them, BUT, THEY TOO CAN BE RATHER ABSURD AT TIMES AND CARRY THINGS TOO FAR!!!

By: foxtrot on 3/6/12 at 11:39

These guys really are Nazis, a friend got a ticket form one of their private cops for jaywalking! They say they are there to protect students from other Nashvillians. How does that protect students? Maybe they want to protect them from getting blood on their BMW's.

“Obviously, smoking isn’t good for human health, and hospitals of all places should be places that help people get better, not get sick,” Holleman said. Does this mean no more candy and soda?

By: Nitzche on 3/7/12 at 11:40

No more fat food next?

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