The UR Medical Center officially became a smoke-free campus today. The final ban came after a long process to introduce all staff to the new regulations. The motto for the program will be “Smoke Free Inside and Out.”

“This has been part of a several month long process which began with reaching out to every student and faculty,” URMC CEO and Senior Vice President for Health Affairs C. McCollister Evarts said.

Several important groups were involved in making the decision. The first was a senior leadership team, which included the CEO of the hospital, the chief medical director and the head of nursing.

In addition to this group, employees and faculty were consulted and their opinions were taken into account regarding the implementation of the ban.

Many people are in favor of the ban. Smoking affects staff, students and patients alike. The new cleaner atmosphere should help make the hospital a healthier place for students, staff and patients.

“I don’t think there should be smoking anywhere in the hospital, so the ban will be a good thing,” URMC office assistant and sophomore Lee Helmken said.

In order to appease those that do smoke, the senior officials at the Medical Center have executed a plan to help those who do want to quit smoking. URMC is offering free nicotine patches, and there is a smoking cessation program in place.

According to Evarts, most people realize that smoking is detrimental to their health and would like to stop.

“People were really quite open and quite collaborative in trying to work through this,” Evarts said.

Of course, there are always those that feel that the ban is unfair. Smokers will have a difficult time finding somewhere to smoke now, as the ban covers a very wide area of the campus.

In fact, the scope of the initiative is very large. The ban extends over almost the entire campus, encompassing the block of Mt. Hope Ave, Crittenden Rd., Lattimore Rd. and Elmwood Ave. One main building that is exempt is the Goler House, but otherwise everything – from parking lots to the Towne House – is included.

There was no survey done to determine the current number of smokers on the Medical Center campus. The senior leadership team that implemented the ban felt that it would be impossible to get an accurate number, since many staff and students would not be honest in their responses.

The reasons behind the ban are numerous. Currently, 438,000 people die every year from smoking-related disease. Right here in Monroe County, three people die every day from smoking-related causes, while nationally one in five deaths are caused by cigarette smoke.

In addition, second-hand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

“There are many factors, but basically it’s quite clear now that there is real evidence,” Evarts said.

Smoking is a serious national health problem, but it is a local problem as well. The mission of the hospital is to prevent these problems at a local level, at the same time helping to alleviate the national epidemic of smoke-related deaths.Myers is a member of the class of 2009.

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