USF Health is working to be smoke-free, and it wants others to join in, too.
Students and faculty from the College of Medicine want to create a smoke-free USF and promote healthy living for students and employees, said Steven Specter, associate dean for Student Affairs in the College of Medicine and leader of the group to implement a ban.
A ceremony today at 10 a.m. in the USF Health Rotunda marks a new ban on cigarette smoking at USF Health and celebrates National Great American Smoke-Out Day, an annual event in which people are encouraged to quit smoking.
The ban prohibits smoking inside and outside or within a 100-foot radius of all 19 USF Health buildings, Specter said.
While USF Health hopes the ban will be effective, it is not upheld by the law.
Under the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act (FCIAA), smoking in all enclosed indoor workplaces is prohibited. However, it does not include the surrounding area outside a building.
“At this point in time, because the law does not strongly enforce non-smoking, we are not looking to do this in an impunitive way but rather to encourage good health practices throughout the USF Health campus,” Specter said.
Creating a true smoke-free environment both indoors and outdoors is not consistent with the FCIAA, he said.
The USF Health campus includes: Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health; Schools of Biomedical Sciences, Continuing Education, and Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences; Children’s Medical Services building; Shriners Hospitals for Children; USF Health Clinics; the Carol & Frank Morsani Center for Advanced Health Care; and the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer’s Center & Research Institute.
USF Health would like to lobby to change the FCIAA law, and prohibit smoking inside and outside of buildings, Specter said. The change would allow USF to work toward a completely smoke-free environment.
“There is a strong association of cigarette smoking and a number of health problems, and so the desire to create an environment that would be welcoming to our students and promoting health to the patients that come here was a very important aspect of USF Health,” Specter said.
The response to the ban on smoking has been positive, he said.
The ban is “a step in the right direction,” said Amanda Rohwedder, a graduate student in the College of Medicine.
“Creating a smoke-free campus shows USF’s commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle for its students and employees,” Rohwedder said.
In an effort to help smokers quit, the USF Health Area Education Center has implemented programs that provide smoking cessation resources, said Donna Peterson, dean of the College of Public Health.
The center offers nicotine patches at a reduced cost, support groups and classes that teach techniques to quit smoking, Peterson said.
The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute has been a smoke-free area for more than a year, she said.
Violators of the ban are given a card that states USF Health is a smoke-free environment and provides information on the smoking cessation resources available to them, Specter said.
Signs indicating the smoke-free policy are placed at various locations across the USF Health premises.