By Tywanna Sparks
IACH Public Affairs Office
Irwin Army Community Hospital, Dental Activity and Veterinary Services leadership signed a memorandum of agreement with the local collective bargaining unit to implement a tobacco-free campus on all Fort Riley medical facilities May 20.
The agreement comes on the heels of the publication of Army Regulation 600-63 which provides the legal framework to enforce a tobacco free campus. As of May 14 no health care personnel may use any tobacco products and no Soldiers may use any tobacco products while in uniform, per the regulation.
“This is the biggest win all the way around,” said Col. Risa Ware, IACH commander. “Leadership worked hard to come up with a plan that will allow folks who have an addiction to have the help they need to break that addiction. Whether they are a beneficiary of military medicine or one of our very valued civilians, we will be able to offer products, counseling and services to help them become tobacco free.”
Negotiations with the American Federation of Government Employees Local 2334 started about two years ago. Back then the concern was over the moral responsibility for the health of patients and employees, said Timothy John, AFGE local president.
“We were ahead of the Army,” he said. “Thanks to the leadership for their stewardship of following this document (MOA) to get this accomplished.”
The MOA outlines 13 negotiated proposals and indicates how the policy will be implemented in phases and that tobacco cessation assistance will be provided to employees.
No sooner than 30 days after the signing of the agreement will the policy take effect and apply to all health care staff, patients and visitors. Designated smoking areas will be removed. Tobacco products may only be used in privately owned vehicles during the initial phase at all Fort Riley medical facilities.
The initial phase will end upon final occupancy of the new hospital. At that time, any use of tobacco products will be prohibited at all medical facilities within defined campus boundaries.
“This is an exciting day,” Ware said. “This really shows we are taking steps forward and we are going to be the example to our Soldiers, to our Family members and to our community for health living which does not involve the use of tobacco products.”
More for information on tobacco cessation contact the Fort Riley Department of Public Health at 239-7323, or the Army Wellness Center at 240-QUIT.