Campus News

August 2, 2010

Breathe campaign to offer a fresh take on wellness

Step UP Emory’s new Breathe campaign promotes campus-wide healthy living — and offers tools for smokers to finally break the habit.

The latest in a series of Step UP Emory wellness programs, the Breathe campaign is designed to promote overall respiratory health by focusing on smoking cessation, deep breathing, regular exercise and proper sleep and nutrition.

“There’s something for everyone,” says Eddie Gammill, Step UP co-chair and Emory wellness programs manager. “Promoting a culture of wellness not only creates positive outcomes for individuals but it creates models for others to follow.”

The year-long Step UP Emory campaign will launch Aug. 4 with a Breathe Carnival at Emory University Hospital, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will feature free sleep screening surveys, lung function tests and yoga and massage demonstrations. 

While there, smokers can learn about upcoming Freedom From Smoking classes, a free eight-week tobacco cessation program offered by the American Lung Association.

Led by a trained facilitator, the group sessions explore the emotional triggers for smoking, along with how to respond to cravings. Emory also offers behavioral health resources through the Faculty Staff Assistance Program, along with a round-the-clock phone help line administered by Aetna. A list of free prescription medications for smoking cessation is available through Emory Human Resources.

The Breathe campaign aligns with the University’s strategic goal of creating community and engaging society, Gammill says, by promoting a healthy work environment that supports overall respiratory health. In 2007, Emory moved to prohibit smoking inside University buildings — Campus Life sets the requirements for residence halls — and within 25 feet of all building entrances.

“We’re raising awareness about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke,” says Gammill. “It’s not just an individual health issue. It’s a public health issue.”

Starting next year, Emory Healthcare will implement a $50 monthly tobacco use surcharge on health premiums for employees, their spouses and dependents  who use tobacco products. It’s a move to support tobacco cessation and encourage employees to set a positive example for their patients and the community. Emory Healthcare employees who enroll in a participating tobacco cessation program before Jan. 1, 2011, will be exempt from the charge.

The University is still evaluating the surcharge for possible future adoption. In the meantime, there will be no tobacco use surcharge for University employees.  

“Smoking isn’t just a social habit or a cultural norm. It is also an addiction,” says Gammill. “We’re doing ample preparation and offering incentives to help anybody who wants to stop.”

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