UA snuffing out cigarettes at hospitals

The University of Arizona’s network of hospitals an clinics is going completely smoke-free — outdoors as well as inside — beginning Jan. 1.

The UA Health Network’s new tobacco-free policy affects the University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus (that’s UMC to those not used to the new name), the University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus and dozens of clinics across Tucson and Southern Arizona.

UMC

The University of Arizona Medical Center

Although smoking has been prohibited inside the hospitals for many years, smoking was permitted in designated outside areas. These outdoor shelters will be removed by Jan. 1, UAMC’s Katie Riley said in a press release.

To ease the transition to a tobacco-free environment, The University of Arizona Health Network is offering free smoking-cessation treatment to its nearly 7,000 employees and to their dependents, Riley said.

Patients will receive counseling and medications to control their nicotine cravings, and visitors to the hospitals who smoke will be offered free nicotine-replacement gum.

“It’s all about creating an environment of wellness” John Marques, chief human resources officer for the Health Network, said in the release. “We are a health-care institution and it’s clear that smoking and smoking-related illnesses are among the leading causes of death in this country. It makes sense for us to promote a healthy, tobacco-free environment for our staff, patients and their families.”

“We recognize that this new policy may be hard on some patients and family members who smoke, especially those who are hospitalized here for long stretches of time,” Marques said. “Our intention is to be as supportive as we can while maintaining a totally tobacco-free environment.”

Employees who smoke may enroll for free in the Quit & Win Tobacco Free Living Program through the University of Arizona Department of Family and Community Medicine.

The program is a seven-session, one-on-one program that starts with a meeting with a physician to review the smoker’s health and tobacco history and to develop a personalized quit plan. The first visit includes a physical exam and lab tests. The Health Network also will provide customized cessation medications at no charge to employees and their dependents who participate in Quit & Win.

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