Emory Goes Smoke-Free

Emory has transitioned to a tobacco-free campus

By David Payne

Photo

istockphoto.com

This year, Emory will transition to a tobacco-free campus, with a tobacco-free policy for all of the university and Emory Healthcare campuses beginning in January 2012. “Tobacco is an addictive substance, and we are mindful that quitting is not easy for many people,” says Peter Barnes, vice president for human resources.

As part of the transition, the university will establish up to twenty temporary smoking zones, to be permanently removed after a designated period. Enforcement will be encouraged through positive community engagement, in which tobacco users are politely reminded of the campuswide policy.

Smoking continues to be banned inside and within twenty-five feet of all campus buildings.

Why is the use of tobacco, instead of other potentially harmful substances, being banned?

“That’s a question I hear a lot,” says Michael Johns, university chancellor, former executive vice president for health affairs, and cochair for the Tobacco-Free Initiative. “Tobacco is one of the only substances that even if used in moderation is proven to be harmful to your health. It is also important that Emory—as a university of higher learning that educates and trains health care providers, and as a health care system that provides care to tobacco users and supports preventative health—not support a habit that is inherently unhealthy.”

The university is offering a variety of tobacco-cessation resources and programs for both staff and students, as well as implementing a tobacco use surcharge to health plan premiums for faculty and staff.

“We realize that this new policy represents significant change for tobacco users at Emory, but the tobacco-free policy is consistent with most health care in metro Atlanta, with some of our peer universities, and with other colleges and universities nationwide,” says Johns. “Emory is on the forefront of this emerging policy change, but we are certainly not acting alone in discouraging the use of tobacco.”

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