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USF Health Campus Goes Smoke Free

Thursday, June 25, 2009   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Leanna Baylis
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Time to squelch that cigarette.

The entire campus of USF Health is going smoke-free, starting Nov. 19, the same day as the annual Great American Smoke-Out.

But the signs announcing the pending ban went up last week, making the end all but official.

Sign installer Bill Gaw posts the news.

"We're doing this because we are a health institution, and promoting a smoke-free environment at USF Health is perceived to be one more instance of USF Health promoting good health habits," said Steven Specter, PhD, associate dean for student affairs and leader of a task force to implement the ban.

The task force also is publicizing programs to help smokers kick the habit, said Leila Martini, assistant director of tobacco prevention and cessation for USF's Area Health Education Center Program.

"It's hard to quit, so we're trying to help them," she said. "We're trying to make it as easy as possible."

The push to move smoking off campus started with medical students who were disturbed by the contradiction of a school promoting health yet allowing unhealthy behavior, Dr. Specter said. Around the same time, AHEC received funds to put together a smoking cessation program.

The students also are working on a plan to lobby legislators for outdoor smoking to be banned on medical school campuses, Dr. Specter said.

State law already bars smoking indoors in most public places.

The ban will extend around the entire USF Health campus. That means the Colleges of Nursing, Medicine and Public Health, but also patient care spaces, such as the Morsani Center, the Children's Medical Services building, and the medical clinic; and outlying buildings, such as the Byrd Alzheimer's Institute.

The ban will extend the smoke-free area on the USF campus. Last year, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute enacted a smoking ban on its campus.

However, the ban will be enforced gently. There will be no smoking police. Instead, if people are seen smoking on campus, they will be given a business-size card explaining the ban and listing phone numbers for smoking cessation programs.

So far, Dr. Specter hasn't heard directly from anyone opposed to the ban. He approached one of his employees, a smoker, and asked him about it.

"His response was, ‘I'll just have to not smoke here,' " Dr. Specter said. "I'm sure there are some smokers who are unhappy, but nobody's come forward."

Task force member Gary Stein, MPH, tobacco programs coordinator for the Hillsborough County Health Department, praised USF Health for enacting the ban.

"Tobacco is the only thing sold in the U.S. that, when used as directed, kills its user," he said. "USF Health, by its name and its nature, is the harbinger of health. It doesn't make sense for USF Health to facilitate the use of tobacco."

Other members of the task force are: Dr. Mathis Becker; Dr. Dennis Penzell; Danielle Schutz; Dr. Lonna Gordon, a 2009 graduate of the College of Medicine; Dr. Daniel Mauriello, a 2008 graduate; and medical student Byron Moran.

Need help quitting?

The task force is referring smokers to these programs:

Florida Quit Line 1-877-U-CAN-NOW
USF Employee Assistance Center 974-5469
USF Counseling Center 974-2831
USF Student Health Services 974-2331
Florida Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Network 1-87-QUIT-NOW-6 (1-877-848-6696)

- Story by Lisa Greene, USF Health Communications
- Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications

USF College of Public Health Alumni Society
12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, MDC 70, Tampa, FL 33612
Phone: 813-396-9665 I Fax: 813-974-2936

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