Laurie Cheung, Karen Yip and Krista Carson (pictured left to right) are three members of the larger Smoke-Free Campus Committee who are reinvigorating the non-smoking policy across the Richmond Hospital campus of care.

Clearing the air at Richmond Hospital

Richmond Hospital will embark upon a newly strengthened tobacco-free campus campaign on August 21 to encourage patients, staff and visitors to go smoke- and vape-free across hospital grounds; sidewalks and parking lots included.

“While VCH has had a Smoke-Free Premises Policy in place for the last decade, we are updating the practices to bring them in line with changes to provincial tobacco legislation that came into play last year,” said Dr. Meena Dawar, Medical Health Officer, VCH Richmond.

The latest legislative changes consider vapour products — also known as electronic or e-cigarettes — as a tobacco product. These are now prohibited in smoke-free spaces. Also, health authority premises are now designated smoke–free and vape-free under the provincial Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act.

“As such, we’re refreshing what it means to be smoke-free, and how to help our patients become smoke-free while receiving care in our premises,” said Jodi Kortje, director, Critical Care, Emergency and Medical Services, VCH Richmond.

In preparation for the August 21 re-launch, strategies will be in place for the inside and outside the hospital:

  • Inpatients (goal of 100%) will be screened for tobacco use by nursing staff to treat tobacco use disorder.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy will be offered to all tobacco users to treat nicotine withdrawal and tobacco cessation.

Existing signage has been augmented with new signage to reflect prohibition of both smoking and vaping. New signage has been posted around the perimeter of RH as well as near all parkade entrances. Pavement signs have also been installed in key areas, such as outside the Emergency Department entrance and to Ambulatory Care.

Walkabouts will be conducted to inform anyone smoking or using vapour products on Richmond Hospital property of our  smoke-free and vape-free status.

Readying patients for care in a smoke and vape-free facility

All wards (including PEU and Mental Health & Substance Use Inpatient Unit) across Richmond Hospital are preparing to implement the best practices for treating tobacco addiction (now known as tobacco use disorder) contributing to the best quality patient care.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is already offered by physicians. It will soon be available as a routine Nurse Initiated Activity (NIA) pre-printed order set and is receiving the necessary approvals from Richmond Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and AMAC. Once the pre-printed order set is ready, front line nurses can begin offering NRT to eligible and interested inpatients identified as tobacco users from evidence-based screening.

Treating tobacco use disorder

Clinical Nurse Educators and Clinical Resource Nurses, including staff providing direct patient care have been receiving training in preparation for this new nursing function. Nursing staff have been encouraged to take the online NIA Moodle course, leading up to the renewed smoke-free and vape-free implementation date at Richmond Hospital.

Need help to quit?

BC Smoking Cessation Program

  • FREE nicotine patch, gum, inhaler or lozenge. Visit a local pharmacy with your Care Card.

 Transitions Clinic (8100 Granville)

  • FREE stop smoking products with group and one-on-one counselling. 604-244-5486.

 VGH Smoking Cessation Clinic

  • FREE counselling with a doctor or nurse trained in helping people quit smoking. 604-875-4800, press 2.


  • FREE support online (, by phone (1-877-455-2233) or by text QUITNOW to 654321.

 VCH Employee Programs

  • VCH staff enrolled in extended health benefits are eligible for additional stop smoking medications.
  • VCH Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) offers counselling services 604-872-4929.

 Other smoking cessation support programs in your community

  • Please contact Tobacco Reduction 604-675-3801.


  1. Pam Smith says:

    I work on the second floor at Richmond Hospital. Can you please put your big blue ‘no smoking signs’ either on the three benches or on the sidewalk in front of the three benches, between the emergency entrance and the main entrance, because people are smoking on the benches and going in the window above where we work.
    thank you, Pam

    1. Laurie Cheung says:

      Hi Pam,

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re having to breathe in the second-hand smoke.

      Thank you very much for pointing out the hot spot. Our program is looking into installing a sign at the location you pointed out. Please continue to inform us of any issues that come up.

      Thank you kindly for your feedback.

      Laurie Cheung, Tobacco Reduction Coordinator (Richmond)
      Tobacco Reduction
      Vancouver Coastal Health

  2. Jillian says:

    Finally, glad to see that this non-smoking policy get some attention. When I worked at the hospital several years ago I enquired into the ability to enforce it but no one had an answer at that time. The little garden at the front near the main entrance and near the bike racks were two hot spots for smokers. I remember my children trying to lock up their bikes and hold their breath at the same time. Asking for patients to not smoke in that area usually was met with verbal oppostion.

  3. Laurie Cheung says:

    Hi Jillian,

    I remember conversing with you via email at the time. Yes, it must have been frustrating. At the time, it was a VCH policy. So we’re very pleased that there is the new Provincial legislation to support this. Please do stay in touch and keep me posted regarding any tobacco-related issues that may arise. Thanks so much.

    Laurie Cheung, Tobacco Reduction Coordinator (Richmond)
    Tobacco Reduction
    Vancouver Coastal Health

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