MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Medical Educator Speakers Bureau Seminars and Events Research Studies Research Grants Catalyst PDF File Community Happenings Campus News

Return to Main Menu

No Tobacco Day promotes smoke-free environments

Stop by Health 1st’s Wellness Wednesday table in the Children’s Hospital lobby between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. May 30 to receive information on second-hand tobacco smoke.

by Kara Larson

MUSC Physician Assistant Class of 2009
Jan. 1, 2007, marked a new beginning on the MUSC campus with the enforcement of a smoke-free campus policy. This policy states that smoking by any employee (faculty and staff), patient, student, volunteer, contractor, or visitor is prohibited in all buildings and spaces either leased or owned by MUSC except in outside designated smoking huts with signage.
The approval of this policy was a long time in the making. In 1990, the state adopted the Clean Indoor Act (CIA) which states, “It is unlawful for a person to smoke or possess lighted smoking material in any form” in public indoor areas, “except where smoking is designated.” Since the adoption of the CIA, numerous businesses and organizations have formed their own policies restricting the areas where smoking is allowed. Talks to develop an MUSC smoke-free campus policy began in 2005 when the Student Government Association (SGA) sought to persuade MUSC policy makers that second-hand smoke was harmful to the MUSC community. In 2006 the current smoke-free campus policy was adopted with the purpose to provide a healthy environment, eliminate the effects of second-hand smoke, and encourage good health habits within all MUSC facilities. Immediately, MUSC began building smoking huts in strategic positions around campus designated as the only place smokers could light up.
So you might ask, why all the efforts for clean air around campus? Isn’t smoking detrimental only to those who actually light up? Secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) refers to the smoke from burning tobacco products, generated by people smoking them. When tobacco smoke contaminates the air, especially in enclosed spaces, it is breathed by everyone, exposing both smokers and nonsmokers to its harmful effects. SHS is extremely dangerous to your health with 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, 50 of which are known to cause cancer. A 2006 Surgeon General’s Report highlights the danger of SHS, stating that “nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.” The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that SHS is responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually among nonsmokers in the USA, and that up to 1 million children with asthma have their condition worsened due to SHS exposure.
Exposure to SHS can take place at home, work, or public places. There is no safe level of exposure to SHS because neither ventilation nor filtration can eradicate tobacco smoke exposure. Only 100 percent smoke-free environments provide protection. Therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends legislation requiring all work and public places to be 100 percent smoke-free. To promote such environments, the WHO has designated May 30 World No Tobacco Day.
In celebration of World No Tobacco Day at MUSC, the MUSC Physician Assistant (PA) Class of 2009 in conjunction with Health 1st are sponsoring two events targeting MUSC employees, students, and visitors who smoke and those who do not but are exposed to SHS. On May 28 representatives from the PA Class of 2009 will be at the weekly Health 1st booth from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Children’s Hospital lobby distributing materials highlighting the harmful effects of SHS exposure as well as smoking cessation materials.
The two groups will join together May 30, World No Tobacco Day, by sponsoring a lunch symposium emphasizing the need for a healthy MUSC community.   Robert Mallin, M.D., of MUSC Family Medicine, will speak on the harmful effects of tobacco smoke and the importance of smoking cessation. 
Also at the symposium, a panel of employees will briefly describe their journey to become and stay ex-smokers. Additionally, representatives of the MUSC PA Class of 2009 will highlight the importance of 100 percent smoke-free environments by encouraging the enforcement of MUSC’s smoke-free campus policy. This symposium will be held at noon in Room 502, Basic Science Building and is open to all MUSC employees, students, and guests with the first 100 participants receiving a free lunch.

Editor's note: The preceding column was brought to you on behalf of Health 1st. Striving to bring various topics and representing numerous employee wellness organizations and committees on campus, this weekly column seeks to provide MUSC, MUHA and UMA employees with current and helpful information concerning all aspects of health.


Friday, May 23, 2008
Catalyst Online is published weekly, updated as needed and improved from time to time by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.