After months of meetings with members of his cabinet and careful consideration, UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., announced October 29 that the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences would adopt a smoke free policy beginning July 4, 2004. Below is the statement he sent to faculty, staff and students regarding the decision.
As part of our ongoing “Get Healthy Arkansas” campaign, which we kicked off last January with several corporate partners, the decision was made today to take UAMS smoke free beginning July 4, 2004. This smoke free policy will apply to all employees, students and visitors. Beginning January 1, we will offer employees and students who do smoke and would like to quit the opportunity to participate in a free smoking cessation program.
Because some of our patients may be addicted to smoking and unable to stop upon admission, we will offer them patches and work with each one on a case by case basis.
Between now and July 4, we will redouble our efforts to enforce our current smoking policy (see attached), which allows smoking only in six designated areas. Smoking is not allowed in other areas of campus.
While I regret that this decision will not be popular with everyone, because UAMS is Arkansas’ only academic medical center and the healthcare leader in our state, going smoke free was the only responsible decision we could make. It certainly wasn’t the easy way but it was the right way. Smoking is the No. 1 preventable cause of death in Arkansas and active and second hand smoke have been determined by the Surgeon General to cause preventable diseases.
Get Healthy Arkansas is a public partnership aimed at encouraging Arkansans to modify their lifestyles as needed to get healthier. Corporations, non profit organizations and others have formed teams whose members have made lifestyle changes that have included quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthier and exercising more often. Over the last few months Get Healthy Arkansas team members have lost more than 1,000 pounds.
In conjunction with the announcement of the smoke free policy, we are kicking off a second phase of Get Healthy Arkansas here on campus. This “Get Healthy UAMS” campaign will encourage employees and students not only to stop smoking but to eat better and get moving. As part of this effort, we will be re-evaluating the food we serve in our cafeteria to offer healthier options. We will also be looking for ways to make it easier for employees and students to walk and exercise during their workday by erecting distance markers at various points on campus, encouraging those that can to take the stairs rather than elevators, and opening campus exercise facilities to employees as available.
Our employees are our most valuable resource and our students are the future of healthcare in Arkansas. If we are to be successful in our goal of making the state healthier, we must practice what we preach in our own backyard.
The UAMS Administrative Policy Follows.
UAMS ADMINISTRATIVE GUIDE