A brush fire on November 14 damaged four patient rooms in the Clinical Center. The NIH Fire Marshal's investigation determined it was started by cigarettes discarded outside the building in a flower bed, causing mulch to ignite, resulting in smoke infiltrating the exterior building wall and entering the 1 NW Patient Care Unit.
Thankfully no patients were harmed and interior damage was limited mainly to smoke and odor remediation. But, it could have been much worse.
This careless incident is a timely opportunity to remind staff that the NIH Bethesda campus is not only smoke-free, but tobacco free (http://tobaccofree.nih.gov). In October 2008, the NIH implemented a Tobacco-Free Policy prohibiting the use of all tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, etc.) while on campus. This includes the use of these products while in a personal vehicle. It is the responsibility of every employee, contractor, guest and visitor to follow this Policy (https://oma1.od.nih.gov/manualchapters/management/1321/). It's also against the law to smoke within 25 feet of any federal facility.
Employees in violation of the Policy will be reported to their supervisor and are subject to administrative action. Contractors will be reported to their supervisor at their contracting organization for appropriate action. Managers and supervisors are responsible for assuring that their employees abide by the Tobacco-Free Policy.
The NIH encourages and supports employees who would like assistance in eliminating their dependence on tobacco products. The NIH and the Federal Occupational Health (FOH) provide free tobacco cessation treatment services. Interested federal employees should complete the enrollment form at: http://tobaccofree.nih.gov/cessation_enroll.doc. Federal employee insurance plans are required to offer tobacco cessation benefits, including medications and counseling sessions. Contact your health insurance company for details.
All NIH employees, including contractors, have access to additional resources providing support with attempts to become and remain tobacco free:
- Smokefree.gov -- http://www.smokefree.gov/: the information and professional assistance on this site can help you prepare to quit, assist during quitting, and remain a nonsmoker.
- Smokefree Women -- http://women.smokefree.gov/: this site specifically focuses on helping women to quit smoking.
- National Network of Quit Lines -- provides live telephone support and resources and is available at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, TTY 1-800-332-8615.
The NIH is the Nation's steward in medical research. To protect everyone who works or visits the NIH Bethesda campus, it is imperative that we work together to keep the NIH tobacco free by "Taking Our Own Best Advice."