Hospitals and Smoking

For nearly three decades following the publication in 1964 of the landmark Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health, the American Hospital Association, hospital administrators, and hospital medical staffs alike 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. But there were exceptions for patients whose physicians wrote a note in the chart permitting it. The items in this section of the exhibition are selected from the Center’s collection on the history of smoking in hospitals, which consists of newspaper and medical journal articles, photographs, ashtrays, matchbooks, and other artifacts.