Smoke Out

I am happy to report that by July 4, 2007, our campus at UNC Health Care, as well as Rex Healthcare, will be 100 percent tobacco-free.

We joined Duke University Health System and WakeMed Health & Hospitals earlier this month to announce that, as a Triangle hospital community, we will not permit tobacco anywhere on our properties by anyone including employees, physicians, patients and visitors.

During this period of transition, we are developing multiple levels of support for our patients and employees to help them quit smoking.

This new policy is simply putting into practice what we preach as caregivers and health care providers: smoking endangers the health of smokers, as well as those around them. A recent report by the U.S. Surgeon General documents the serious and deadly health effects of involuntary secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke, including cancer and cardiovascular diseases in adults, and adverse respiratory effects in both children and adults.

As a haven for healing and caring for our patients, this important change echoes our values at UNC Health Care. We've promised to deliver the highest quality of care and service to our patients and we continue to ensure we're making good on that pledge every day.

More than 35 percent of hospitals in North Carolina, and a growing number of health care facilities across the nation, have also already made the decision to prohibit tobacco use on their campuses but it's simply not enough. We need to work harder as a state and a nation to kick the smoking habit. We've come a long way, but we can do better.

Some may say this announcement is overdue. I say we have to focus on the fact that we got it done and we're moving forward in a positive direction. Going tobacco-free shows the progress our Tobacco State has made over the years in demonstrating a lasting commitment to our collective health.

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