August 26, 2011
Emory is preparing to transition the campus to a tobacco-free property in 2012.
Last spring, the University announced its intention to implement a tobacco-free policy for all of the University and Emory Healthcare campuses, originally set to begin this fall semester.
Following discussions and review by the University Senate and the President's Cabinet, the policy will now go into effect Jan. 1, 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.
"Based on feedback from both bodies, the implementation date was moved back one semester for additional communications about the change, and to allow tobacco users to quit smoking either on their own or through Emory's cessation programs."
As part of the transition, the University will establish 15-20 temporary smoking zones. These will be located away from buildings and will be permanently removed after a transition period.
Enforcement will be through positive community engagement, where tobacco users are politely reminded of the campus-wide policy.
Smoking continues to be banned inside and within 25 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, executive vice president for health affairs, emeritus and co-chair 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," Johns adds.
The University is taking steps to prepare members of the University community for the transition to a tobacco-free campus, including:
• Offering a variety of tobacco-cessation resources and programs. (Learn more at www.tobaccofree.emory.edu.)
• Implementing a tobacco use surcharge to Emory University's health plan premiums that will go into effect for faculty and staff in January 2012. (Learn more at www.hr.emory.edu/eu.)
• Student outreach. "We will provide tobacco cessation programs that meet their schedules and needs," says Michael Huey, executive director of Student Health and Counseling Services.
"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."