, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 1, 2011

Neighbors upset over hospital smoking policy

NEWBURYPORT — A policy by Anna Jaques Hospital that eliminates smoking on its property is causing a slow burn among many of its residential neighbors.

A group known as the Anna Jaques Neighborhood Association recently submitted a petition with 114 signatures to hospital executives, requesting a meeting to discuss problems they say have arisen from this ban.

On Tuesday night, close to 50 homeowners met with hospital leaders to express concern that the anti-smoking policy is pushing smokers and "troublemakers" onto their streets.

Hospital President and CEO Delia O'Connor and other executives exchanged ideas with residents. She indicated her team will continue to listen to local concerns, but no changes in policy were announced.

"I was pleased they heard us and encouraged that the board might be informed, but I was disappointed that they seemed to deflect our major issues," said Phil Sayles, a local resident who organized the meeting, which was held in the cafeteria of the 123-bed hospital.

"We are concerned about public safety and home values, and at the least we want better communication and more discussions with executives."

He said no new meetings have been scheduled.

Anna Jaques prohibited smoking in the hospital several years ago. In mid-November, it announced that no smoking would be permitted anywhere on hospital property.

The nonprofit facility, nestled in a residential neighborhood, has been part of a national movement among health care institutions for a "no tolerance" program.

Executives several times insisted that patients trying to regain their health should not be exposed to noxious fumes.

Indeed, a smoking area on the grounds has been removed.

But residents said that the hospital is pushing its problems onto their streets.

Because employees, patients and guests have to leave the grounds, they tend to mill around or walk down nearby streets.

Residents complained that they drop butts and other debris in their yards.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Special Features