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Hospital Reviewing Complimentary Cigarette Program

Feb. 8, 1964 - Hospitals across the country are reviewing their policy of allowing cigarettes to be sold in vending machines and concessions. In the aftermath of the U.S. Surgeon General’s report declaring cigarette smoking to be a health hazard, a number of hospitals have already taken steps to prohibit or discourage cigarette sales and discourage smoking.

At Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I., signs were placed on walls saying: “We do not sell cigarettes. We love you too much.” The Pennsylvania Department of Health has banned cigarette and tobacco sales in coffee shops and snack bars at the four state-operated tuberculosis hospitals in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Mont Alto, and Cresson. In Boston and Chicago, major hospitals have placed antismoking signs in corridors and lobbies. But there are no indications so far that cigarette sales or smoking will be prohibited at these hospitals.

“I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point where we’ll tell patients that they can’t smoke,” said Donald Bunn, assistant executive secretary of the Minnesota Hospital Association. “Some patients are so dependent on cigarettes that this would deter their recovery.”

In New Jersey, an official of the State Department of Institutions and Agencies said that patients in state mental hospitals “have enough emotional and psychiatric problems without being deprived of cigarettes.” The official added that none of New Jersey’s major hospitals had taken steps to restrict smoking by patients or hospital personnel.

Some private hospitals have banned the distribution of free cigarettes to patients. But most hospitals were hesitant about prohibiting outright cigarette sales.

“I don’t think I can deny a paying patient the right to smoke a cigarette,” said Carroll Ogren, administrator at Washoe Medical Center in Reno, Nev. “As a service to the patient, I will have to insist we have cigarette machines in the hospital.”


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