Washington University to be tobacco-free by July 2010

Free smoking-cessation programs will be offered to students, faculty, staff

In an effort to provide a healthy, comfortable and productive work and learning environment for students, faculty and staff, all Washington University in St. Louis campuses will become entirely smoke- and tobacco-free by July of 2010, announced Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

Current policy prohibits smoking in any university building. Beginning July 2010, smoking and tobacco use will be prohibited on university-owned and -managed properties.

“We know it will be difficult for some in the university community, but we believe that this is the right and best policy for the health of all who live, work and study at Washington University,” Wrighton said.

The WUSTL School of Medicine banned tobacco use within school facilities and on school property in 2007.

“Smoke-free environments significantly reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, which has been associated with health problems such as heart disease and respiratory illnesses,” said Alan I. Glass, M.D., assistant vice chancellor and director of Habif Health and Wellness Center. “This is an important campus health initiative, and the university will offer support to those affected in hopes of making the transition as easy as possible for our campus community.”

To assist those who wish to quit smoking, WUSTL will offer free smoking-cessation programs to students, faculty and staff members. These programs generally include seven weekly one-hour classes.

In addition, smoking-cessation medications will be made available at no cost for students covered by the Washington University student health insurance. Faculty and staff members enrolled in the university’s smoking-cessation program will be able to purchase a six-week supply of smoking-cessation products for $15 via payroll deduction after the completion of the program’s third and seventh classes.

Community organizations and Web sites such as the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, Nicotine Anonymous and Smokefree.gov also offer tips on how to quit smoking, counseling and other services for little or no cost.

Administrators have established three committees for faculty, staff and graduate and undergraduate students to help communicate information about the new policy, identify obstacles to the policy implementation and solicit help to overcome these potential problems.

The faculty and staff committee will be led by Glass and Brad Freeman, M.D., associate professor of surgery. The graduate and professional students committee will be led by Sheri Notaro, Ph.D., associate dean for the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. The undergraduate students committee will be led by Jill Carnaghi, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for students and dean of campus life.

Presentations on the new policy will be made to groups on campus, and presenters will be available to field questions from audience members.

“This initiative will only be successful with the support of the Washington University community,” Glass said. “We have much work to do, but when this initiative has been accomplished, we will have a healthier working and learning environment.”

As information is available, particularly regarding the availability of smoking cessation classes, updates will be provided on the Student Health Services Web site, shs.wustl.edu, and the Human Resources Wellness Connection Web site, wellnessconnection.wustl.edu.

In addition, useful information can be found at the School of Medicine Web site healthyliving.wustl.edu.