Eight Hospital Ashtrays

An illustrated history of hospitals and smoking

For nearly three decades following the publication of the landmark Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health in 1964, hospital administrators, medical staffs, and the American Hospital Association all dragged their feet in prohibiting smoking in health care facilities. Even after Congress banned smoking on airlines in 1988 and after many major cities passed clean indoor air laws restricting smoking in public places, few hospitals discouraged patients, visitors, medical personnel, and other employees from smoking. In 1991 The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) mandated that hospitals be smoke-free by December 31, 1993…with exceptions for patients whose physicians wrote a note in the chart permitting it. This exhibition presents examples of artifacts and images, selected from the Center’s collection, from a hopefully bygone era.