A proposal to make both of Davis County's hospitals smoke-free is taking longer than health officials thought and may not be successful, the Davis County Health Board was told this week.

Both Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful and Humana Hospital Davis North in Layton planned to ban smoking beginning last November as part of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout.But opposition from some employees and even part of the medical staff has delayed implementation.

Dean Holman, Humana executive director, told the board that he doesn't believe the hospital can be entirely smoke-free, an assessment shared by Lakeview's nursing director, Marion Loesch.

Holman said he sees no reason to force patients suffering from a terminal disease and with only a few days to live to give up smoking. And, the hospital's drug and alcohol treatment wing may have to allow smoking, said respiratory therapist Sandy Farrar, who coordinated Humana's smoking reduction program.

It's tough enough to get those patients to give up alcohol or drug use, Farrar said, without forcing them to also quit smoking at the same time.

Loesch said Lakeview has 17 smokers among its employees but none on the medical staff, and a second-floor lounge has been set aside for use by employees and visitors who wish to smoke.

It's the only place in the hospital, other than some designated patient rooms, where smoking is allowed, Loesch said. The patient rooms and lounge are vented to the outside.

Smoking was recently banned in the hospital's other lounges and the cafeteria as part of a remodeling program, she said.

Holman said Humana's goal of being smoke-free by last November was not feasible, but a phased-in program discouraging smoking by employees, patients and visitors will be in place by this year's Great American Smokeout on Nov. 17.

Farrar, an ex-smoker, said she was surprised at the intensity of the opposition to the smoke-free policy that surfaced among the smokers on the hospital's staff and, she said she was sorry to say, among some members of the medical staff.

A committee of smokers, ex-smokers and non-smokers was put together to work on the issue, Farrar said, and the phased smoking-reduction program resulted.

The no-smoking policy will extend to employees on Sept. 1, Farrar said, giving them five months to prepare for it. Seminars and clinics to help them quit smoking or adjust to the restriction are planned, she said.

The ban will be extended to patients, with some exceptions, and visitors by November, she said. Under the policy, employees will be allowed to smoke only inside their vehicles in the hospital parking lot on their lunch hour, she said.

"We're not trying to force anyone to give up smoking, but we feel as a health-care facility we should encourage non-smoking," Farrar told the health board.

Humana's policy provides that employees who violate the smoking ban will first be given a verbal and then written reprimand, followed by counseling, suspension and termination.

Loesch said implementing the no-smoking policy at Lakeview, which has two smokers among its respiratory therapists, has taken four years and is one of the toughest jobs she's faced in her career.