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September 9, 2009

Smoke Free Campus

Dear Health Center Employees,
 
I am pleased to announce that the University of Connecticut Health Center is joining health care organizations across the state and across the country in adopting a smoke free campus. This decision is made in collaboration with the Connecticut Hospital Association’s “Clear the Air” campaign, which targets smoke free campuses at all Connecticut hospitals by November 2010.

Plans are underway to move toward implementation of a smoke free campus policy at UCHC by November 18, 2010. This date coincides with the American Cancer Society’s "Great American Smoke-Out," a national observance to encourage people to stop smoking. Following a year-long campaign, we will be asking all employees, patients, visitors, vendors, students, medical residents and faculty to refrain from using any tobacco product on UCHC premises. Additional information will be made available in the coming months, including a list of affected properties, public notifications and signage changes.

Smoking and second-hand smoke is widely recognized as the single most important cause of preventable disease. As a leader in health care, we have a responsibility to implement a policy that promotes a safe and healthy environment. Previously, the Health Center’s smoke-free zone applied to the building interiors and within 50 feet of the building entrances. We are proud to take this further step toward promoting the health of Connecticut citizens.

Our Human Resources Department, through Know Better Place, will be working to support our employees throughout our transition to a tobacco-free environment. Look for more information in the near future on tobacco cessation resources and strategies, including clinical trials and studies that are available right here at the Health Center. In addition, we encourage employees who would like to stop using tobacco products to take advantage of the Connecticut Quitline at 1-866-363-4224 (1-800-END-HABIT). The CT Quitline is a telephone help line offered free of charge that provides cessation counseling, quitting information and support. The CT Quitline is available from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. every day of the week. English, Spanish, and other language speaking coaches are available.

It is important to emphasize that the decision to go tobacco-free is not an attempt to “force” anyone to quit using tobacco products. Rather, the tobacco-free initiative is a concrete way for the Health Center to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to healthy living. I ask for your support and understanding as we strive to promote, protect and improve the health of the citizens of our state.

Sincerely,

Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, School of Medicine