Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Navigate Up
CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

CAMH shares its best advice on the journey to tobacco-free

May 31, 2016 - May 31st is World No Tobacco Day as the World Health Organization puts the spotlight on tobacco harms -- and advocates for policies to reduce consumption. Today we learn more about CAMH’s role as a tobacco-free pioneer.

“Our fresh-air zone across all CAMH sites promotes evidence-based wellness to improve the health of our patients, staff and community,” says Kim Bellissimo, VP of HR and Organizational Development, and co-sponsor of CAMH’s Tobacco-Free Sustainability Project.

As other hospitals prepare to implement or enhance tobacco-free policies, CAMH is offering its best advice and lessons learned from being a tobacco-free pioneer.

Patient Recovery Zone graph
CAMH is leading by example to:

  • Promote health by reducing exposure to second-hand smoke;
  • Make people aware of the impact their tobacco use has on others; and
  • Sustain a healthy environment where patients, staff and visitors can breathe freely and heal fully.

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act requires all hospitals and psychiatric facilities to remove designated smoking areas by January 1st, 2018. CAMH was one of the first Canadian hospitals to go tobacco-free, and we are now part of a growing trend across health centres nationwide.

As many hospitals prepare for this change, CAMH is receiving more requests to partner and share lessons learned from our tobacco-free implementation.

Earlier this year, Kim Bellissimo presented to the Ontario Hospital Association on CAMH’s tobacco-free program, with her project co-sponsor Dr. Tony George, CAMH’s Chief of Addictions and Concurrent Disorders. They shared lessons learned over the past several years, and described the key steps to go tobacco-free.

“Rolling out a tobacco-free environment is a journey, beginning with learning about how tobacco-free would affect our organization and communicating the change to our clients and staff,” Kim said. CAMH has been officially Tobacco-Free since 2014 and continues to optimize its processes to sustain that success.

A critical part of any change management strategy is to understand what aspects are most effective. CAMH has accumulated meaningful “lessons learned that can be shared with external organizations to help them implement a Tobacco-Free environment, as well as strengthen our own organization in future change management initiatives.

Here are some of the key lessons from our tobacco-free journey:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate!
  • Develop a governance structure of inter-professional dedicated team members.
  • Engage the surrounding community in the early stages.
  • Get clinical staff on-board.
  • Set clear incentives and disincentives and be prepared to deliver on them.
  • Consider the benefits of a big-bang versus phased approach.
  • Consider timing with other changes within the hospital and health care environment.
  • Commit resources to a sustainability phase.

Since its presentation to the OHA this spring, CAMH received more than 20 requests from organizations to learn more; these include the University Health Network, Kingston General Hospital, Cancer Care Ontario, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare and more.

“We’ll continue to share the knowledge we’ve gained from our tobacco-free journey,” said Kim, “and we appreciate the continued support of all of our CAMH staff and patients.”

Learn more: Click here to view a chart illustrating the detailed steps CAMH has taken to go tobacco-free, from change management, to implementation, to the current sustainability phase where CAMH can share its journey and lessons learned along the way.



 Related Links

CAMH Switchboard 416-535-8501
CAMH General Information Toronto: 416-595-6111 Toll Free: 1-800-463-6273
Connex Ontario Help Lines
Queen St.
1001 Queen St. W
Toronto, ON
M6J 1H4
Russell St.
33 Russell St.
Toronto, ON
M5S 2S1
College St.
250 College St.
Toronto, ON
M5T 1R8
Ten offices across Ontario