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Policy Enforcement

Ongoing policy enforcement is key to a successful policy implementation and compliance. Enforcement needs to be consistent and prompt to any violation. Below are a suggested for enforcement strategies taken from tobacco-free hospital policies in Maine.

  • Signage- Appropriate signage is posted and physical boundaries are distinguished to denote the policy. See sample tobacco-free signage templates.
  • Consistent messaging- All materials used to educate people of the policy, including employee and patient manuals, patient/volunteer/employee orientations, indoor and outdoor signage, etc. need to have consistent messaging.
  • Community enforcement- Give all employees the responsibility to enforce the tobacco-free policy. For example, have reminder cards available to employees with the 100% tobacco-free message on it to hand out to people who are violating the policy.
  • Assigned enforcement-  Designate enforcement to a particular department, such as Security or Maintenance. Ensure the designated department personnel have the proper tools, resources, and authority to respond to people who are violating the policy.
  • Employee consequences- Clearly explain expectations and violation consequences, these should be spelled out in the policy. For example, some organizations require annual acknowledgement of the tobacco policy and other organizations use a progressive disciplinary approach for violations.
  • Train those responsible for enforcement-  Ensure everyone responsible for enforcement is trained how to talk with sensitivity and clarity to people who are violating the policy, and also when it is appropriate to call security. Include a short talking points card that staff can learn. Emphasize the policy is not about making people quit. It is about maintaining a healthy environment for all.
  • Leadership walkabouts- Conduct walkabouts around the hospital campus with leadership of all levels during varied days and times to approach staff, visitors and contractors violating the policy to offer education and request compliance with the policy.  Also look for litter to identify potential areas for repeated policy violations.
  • Staff involvement in clean up efforts- Utilize staff to assist with cleaning up tobacco-related litter waste on the hospital campus.

The tobacco-free policy should define the enforcement strategies for the policy for employee and visitor infractions.