I had a question recently about smoking inside the facility. Now here’s the reality. Most people are not going to want to have smoke anywhere near them whether the state allows it or not. But some residents, believe it or not, even if they’re 85 years old and having health issues are still going to want to smoke.
The laws regarding smoking in public places isn’t a federal subject, and therefore, the rules and regulations for smoking in public will vary by state. Since an assisted living community is also a workplace, it may fall under workplace regulations for smoking.
Some assisted living communities will choose to have designated smoking and non-smoking rooms, while others may ban smoking entirely in residents’ rooms as well as common areas.
Most assisted living facilities ban smoking in public areas indoors, however, in states where smoking is permissible, there can be designated indoor or outdoor smoking areas. These areas should be situated so that the smoke will not enter “smoke-free” areas. Outdoor smoking areas should be physically accessible, protected from the elements, and located in such a way that smoke will not enter non-smoking areas, including individual rooms. And assisted living staff could have a choice of whether or not to accompany residents to smoking areas.
In all cases, assisted living communities should follow state or local laws regarding smoking in public places. In areas where there is no public smoking ban, an assisted living community may still institute its own “no smoking” policies for the health and well being of its residents and staff.
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are a fairly new topic to assisted living and are typically not (but can be) subject to the same rules and regulations as regular tobacco cigarettes. As of yet, there doesn’t seem to be enough consensus on the classification and regulation of this newer technology. Many facilities are not allowing it at all, while others allow it after the resident is deemed by the doctor or advanced practice nurse to be safe at handling the device.
American Association of Public Health Physicians
As of April 2010, The American Association of Public Health Physicians (AAPHP) supports electronic cigarettes sales to adults, “because the possibility exists to save the lives of four million of the eight million current adult American smokers who will otherwise die of a tobacco-related illness over the next twenty years.” The AAPHP recommends that the FDA reclassify the electronic cigarette as a tobacco product (as opposed to a drug/device combination).
The e-cigarette is controversial. Currently, laws governing the use and sale, as well as the accompanying liquid solutions, vary widely with pending legislation an ongoing debate in many regions. If your facility decides to allow the e-cigarette, as with all other devices, you will need a policy on it that is reviewed and updated regularly.
If you have a loved one entering assisted living refuses to quit smoking or switch to e-cigarettes, ask about smoking policies and the availability of smoking apartments before you choose the community that’s best for you.
Advice from Gene:
What I would suggest that you do is have a designated outdoor smoking area, not indoor, outdoor, no matter what the state allows. And more than likely they’re going to say you can’t smoke in the house.
If somebody does want to smoke, it has to be a certain distance away from the house and do it outside, not inside.
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Founder of the Residential Assisted Living Academy.