Breathe Freely: Coral Gables Campus Goes 100 Percent Smoke Free

New policy is part of UM’s commitment to a safe, healthy environment.

(August 01, 2013) — August 1, 2013 — Coral Gables — Continuing a commitment to provide a safe and healthy environment for faculty, staff, students, and visitors, the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus is now completely smoke free.

The new policy comes two years after the University created designated smoking areas on its Coral Gables campus as part of its Smoke-Free Campus Initiative. As of August 1, however, smoking is no longer allowed anywhere on the Gables campus. That means inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigarette or electronic cigarette, cigar, pipe or other such device that contains tobacco or other smoke-producing products will be prohibited in all areas of the campus.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to create a healthy living and working environment,” said UM President Donna E. Shalala, a former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services. “We’re going completely smoke free for our students, employees, visitors, and friends.”

New “Breathe Freely” signs are posted in many locations around the Coral Gables campus, serving as a reminder that smoking is no longer allowed in any areas. The new signage is also a reminder that everyone in the UM community shares a responsibility to remind others that the Coral Gables campus is now a smoke-free campus.

With the new 100 percent smoke-free policy, the Coral Gables campus will join the Miller School of Medicine campus, which has been entirely smoke free since March 2010.

“Through our new wellness philosophy, the University is working to create a healthier workplace. The smoke-free initiative works to advance this goal,” said Nerissa E. Morris, vice president of human resources and chair of the UM Wellness Advisory Council. “As the Coral Gables campus prepares to go fully smoke free, Well ’Canes will continue to offer smoking-cessation programs and additional resources to help smokers quit.”

The University offers the UM family a variety of resources to help quit smoking, including the award-winning BeSmokeFree program sponsored by the Office of Community Health, Area Health Education Center’s state-funded Tobacco Cessation Program, which also provides support for other elements of this undertaking.

The award-winning six-week BeSmokeFree program, which is free to UM employees and their family members, offers education, counseling, and free quit-smoking aids such as nicotine replacement gum, lozenges, and patches. The program will also cover the full cost of prescriptions for Chantix, a medication used to treat smoking addiction. Classes are held at the Coral Gables campus’s Herbert Wellness Center and at the Miller School’s Medical Wellness Center.

“It’s been a tremendous help for many employees. For those who relapse, they can take the class again,” said Virginia Perez, BeSmokeFree program director. For more information on BeSmokeFree, call 305-243-7606.

UM’s smoke-free policy began with a student-led initiative and is backed by Student Government, the Graduate Student Association, and Student Bar Association. A recent survey of 2,186 UM students found 63 percent agree or strongly agree on having a completely smoke-free campus.

“This new initiative is something Student Government has been working towards for many years after receiving overwhelming requests from students,” said Bhumi Patel, president of UM Student Government. “We’d like those who smoke to keep in mind that there are resources available to help them with this transition. It is now the responsibility of all students, employees, and visitors to maintain a smoke-free, healthy campus.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports on its website that “smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general” and that “quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits for you and your loved ones.”

The dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke have been documented as well. The findings of an October 2009 Institute of Medicine Report, Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects, indicate that there is about a 25 to 30 percent increase in the risk of coronary heart disease from exposure to secondhand smoke.

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Signs such as this one are now posted around UM’s Coral Gables campus.

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