smokingAs a seasoned medical assistant in a busy family practice office, you are asked to prepare an educational presentation on the effects of smoking for the patients, employees, and general...
As a seasoned medical assistant in a busy family practice office, you are asked to prepare an educational presentation on the effects of smoking for the patients, employees, and general public. Your office is located next to the hospital where smoking has been banned everywhere on the hospital campus. In addition, employees are prohibited from smoking in their own cars on the parking lot. Explain the effects of smoking on the respiratory system including the long-term effects. Discuss the issue of second-hand smoke and the effects on children. Do you agree with the hospital’s ban on smoking? Explain your answer
While I agree that banning smoking in the car is an infringement on personal liberties, look at it from the hospital's perspective. They want a smoke free campus. If personnel are smoking in their vehicles while on campus, it can create problems. For instance, there will still be a problem of cleaning up cigarette butts out of the parking lot. There will still be second hand smoke on campus because a car isn't going to contain the smoke. Also consider that there are negative side effects (especially for young children) from more than just second hand smoke. A person's clothing, hair, and even their skin will retain some dangerous toxins from the cigarette smoke. Asking employees not to smoke at all on campus (even in their personal vehicles) assures that much of the toxins will not enter the building. It is also much easier to manage a total smoking ban than a partial one. I know many hospitals, schools and state buildings have a complete ban of all smoking on campus even in personal vehicles. While it may seem unfair to tell personnel what to do in their own cars, technically the property owner has the right to say what happens on their property. We tell people they can't bring a gun to work in their purse even though the purse is their personal property. While that may be a far fetched example, legally it amounts to the same thing.
Not to mention that I would imagine anyone who smokes in their car does so with the window down or cracked. The car would become a bit unbearable if the smoke was allowed to collect (albeit funny). So the smoke isn't just in the car, it's drifting. Doesn't take much to set off a patient with lung problems, and hospitals are where the weakest people tend to be, of course. I think the hospital is within their rights.
By the same token, I work in a public school which also forbids smoking in cars or anywhere else. If it seems constitutional to uphold that law (and I think it is) because kids are vulnerable, why not hospital patients and employees?
I would support the ban on smoking on the hospital campus, but not the ban on smoking in private cars. It seems very difficult to justify prohibiting people from smoking in their own car where they are not hurting anyone but themselves. Unless the hospital is simply going to ban all its employees from smoking (and I have heard of some that do for insurance purposes), this seems like a step over the line from protecting public health to infringing on people's rights.
In my opinion, the question is moot. If the hospital owns the parking lot and they ban smoking, then it is their right. There is nothing that can be done. Moreover, there have a good reason for it. Smoking is dangerous on many level. It is so bad that even second hand smoking is bad. Most importantly, the place is a hospital, where people are sick. In light of all these points, I agree with the hospital's policy.
I too think that the hospital has the right to ban smoking, even in personal cars. The mere smell of smoke that lingers on clothing and in hair could cause someone with a sensitive sense of smell to be bothered by that odor, and for that reason alone, a hospital might want to ban smoking, even in cars. When people are ill, sensitivity can be a bigger problem than might be typical in a healthy person.
Hospitals are well within their rights in banning smoking in cars, as residual smoke on clothing can cause breathing problems with patients. Employers can mandate that their employees don't drink in their cars or at lunch hour, so I don't see why they shouldn't be able to ban smoking in their parking lots.
I agree with the answers already posted. Banning smoking in cars might be unconstitutional and would also be very difficult to enforce. In general, I am in favor of banning smoking in any public places precisely because of the dangers of second-hand smoke. In order to make my case for banning smoking, I would try to show films in which people with lung diseases are interviewed. Ideally the film would also include pictures of the autopsied lungs of life-long smokers. I also hope that the film would present children who have suffered from second-hand smoke. Here's the sort of thing I have in mind: