The College of Community Health Sciences has implemented a tobacco-free policy for its campus. The new policy affects the College’s buildings and grounds, including green spaces, walkways, employee parking and patient and public parking. It applies to College faculty, staff, residents and medical students, as well as patients, visitors, vendors and guests.
The policy took effect Nov. 15 to coincide with national Great American Smoke Out, a day set aside to encourage smokers and tobacco users to quit or to make plans to quit.
“As a College of health professionals, we are first and foremost a promoter of health and well-being for our patients, but also for ourselves as a workplace family,” says College Dean Richard Streiffer, MD. “It is important that we demonstrate a commitment to health and provide an environment that fosters prevention as well as medical education.”
The College provides medical education to resident physicians through its Tuscaloosa Family Medicine Residency. As a regional campus of The University of Alabama School of Medicine, the College provides clinical training for third- and fourth-year medical students. In addition, the College operates University Medical Center and the University’s Student Health Center, providing health care to the local community, University employees and the University’s 30,000 plus students.
Streiffer says the College is committed to assisting its faculty, staff, residents and medical students who wish to quit with tobacco cessation skills that can be obtained through referrals to resources within the College and to those available at the University.
“We recognize that this is a challenge and we want to be helpful and supportive as they make personal changes in tobacco use,” Streiffer says.
Nationwide, there is a trend among colleges, universities and health-care campuses toward implementing tobacco-free policies. According to the American Lung Association, there are 290 colleges and universities that prohibit smoking and all forms of tobacco use everywhere on their campuses.
Tobacco has been shown to be the single most avoidable cause of premature death and disability from a variety of cancers, chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease. Tobacco-related illnesses account for the deaths of more than 440,000 adults in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For every person who dies from tobacco use, there are 20 more who suffer with at least one serious tobacco-related illness, including cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and chronic lung disease, the CDC says. Exposure to secondhand smoke is an equally serious problem and causes an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States, according to the CDC.