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New smoking policy clears air

Patients and employees who want to smoke a cigarette at the Moffitt Cancer and Research Institute will now have to think twice. Starting April 1, the Moffitt campus will be completely smoke-free, and anyone caught smoking on Moffitt property will be asked to extinguish his or her cigarette. He or she will also be given a card displaying information about Moffitt’s smoke-free policy on one side, with information directing the holder to smoking cessation programs on the other.

Supporters say the move is in keeping with a trend to ban smoking from public areas.

“Everywhere you go now there is less and less smoking allowed,” said Barry Ashe, program administrator for radiation oncology at Moffitt. “We should have stopped it a long time ago.”

Ashe said he believes a leading cancer research facility such as Moffitt should discourage its patients and employees from engaging in cancer-causing activities. Smoking is, of course, a very visible cancer-causing activity, he said.

He said Moffitt plans to implement the smoke-free policy through peer enforcement and smoking cessation programs. Currently, the center offers free cessation programs to employees regardless of whether or not they have health insurance. The insurance program Moffitt offers its employees covers both behavioral and pharmaceutical treatments for smokers. “We hope that people will believe in what they do,” Ashe said. “We can’t force anybody to do anything, except not smoke on our campus.”

He said that he hoped this new program would encourage USF to follow Moffitt’s example and become a non-smoking campus as well.

USF confirmed it was not planning to ban smoking on campus.

Moffitt Cancer Center will not direct prospective smokers to USF property to smoke but will instead tell them simply that they can’t smoke on the Moffitt campus.

Linda Calley, whose son is a patient at Moffitt, said she felt the new policy wouldn’t change her smoking habits. “You got to do what you got to do,” she said. “I guess you got to walk across the street now. I’ll walk to wherever I got to go to do it.”

“I don’t think it’s right,” said Kent Serowka, a Moffitt patient. “I could see certain areas, but if you’re in the open air, then that should take care of it.”

Others at Moffitt expressed different attitudes. One patient, who declined to give her name, said she found it appalling that people would stand in front of the doors and smoke. She said she felt the smoking ban would make a statement to employees and patients.

“We’d like to be the leader in our field,” Ashe said. “We want to set the bar. We have signs that say ‘We contribute to the prevention of cancer.'”