Feb 02 2012
Despite the UA Health Network’s attempts to make its campuses a tobacco-free zone, smoke breaks may not be completed just yet.
Since January 1, the network has implemented a new policy that prohibits tobacco use, both inside and outside facilities, including University of Arizona, University Medical Center Campus, South Campus and affiliated clinics.
“Everything is going very well,” said John Marquez, vice president and chief human resources officer for the network. “We had a good response from our employees and there are few situations where people visiting the center were found smoking and told him about the new policy.”
The ban is in place to prevent patients at a medical facility from exposure to secondhand smoke and encourage smokers to make better decisions health, Marquez said.
Besides politics, the center also has created a campaign to help employees, family members and friends to quit smoking. Quit and Win program of the Tobacco Free Life developed by the Department of Medicine Family and Community is one of the options created to help people quit smoking.
“We have had a number of people enroll in this program, and that is really going well,” Marques said. “So I think at the end, we get the answer we were looking for.”
However, while the campus medical center tobacco-free zone, Arizona Health Sciences Center, located directly behind it, it’s not. Laurie Soloff, Evaluation Outreach and Multicultural Affairs for the College of Medicine, said, because the center is running a different employer than the university, his side of the campus had no effect on the new policy.
“The problem now is that the policy affects only the medical side of the center”, Soloff said. “There are a number of areas on the side of Medical Sciences, where smoking was ongoing and continued if not increased, the number of employees who have moved here because they can not smoke where they used to.”
One of the hot spots of smoking from the center of the campus, which is also in colleges of medicine, pharmacy, health and care, this Courtyard Hippocrates, located in the Library of Arizona Health Sciences.
“We have a statue of Hippocrates in that plaza, and all around him there are cigarette butts,” Soloff said. “My concern is really the secondhand smoke exposure because it is a serious health hazard to all of us. Having to walk through clouds of smoke to get to a building is a problem.”
Elizabeth McClellan and Kelsey Mesch, juniors in the College of Nursing, said they usually spend time in the plaza in between classes and notice people smoking there regularly.
“The ban is not really effective when we’re sitting here trying to enjoy the day, and all you can smell cigarettes,” said McClellan. “But there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Currently the focus is in the process of creating own their tobacco-free initiative, which will be similar to the medical center.
“It’s really important that we have the same needs in our direction, but for all the same reasons,” said Kathy Nicholson, director of human resources in the Arizona Health Science Centre. “While we have worked on this for quite some time, our process takes a little longer because we are at the university.”
The proposal, which is now available for public comment, will go to the UA for final approval in early March. If approved, the facility will implement the ban as soon as possible, said Nicholson. But until then, places such as the Courtyard Hippocrates will be free to smokers to use.
“I think the nurses and doctors should be role models for their patients, so when they smoke, they create a bad example,” said Mesch. “We should have a smoking ban on our side, because we learn to be future doctors and nurses here – we must be that the best example.”