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No Tobacco Day promotes smoke-free
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
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
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
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