By Randy Harmatz
In 2009, UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center made the decision to go Tobacco-Free Together campuswide. When I arrived here 10 months ago, it became pretty clear that we needed to revisit our commitment to this process, as staff members, patients and families were openly smoking in numerous areas across our campuses.
It concerned me greatly about the message this sent to our patients. Walkways and scenic areas were littered with cigarette butts, and we had situations where caregivers smelled like smoke while delivering care and, worse, were found smoking side by side with our patients.
We all agree we can do better than that.
On July 1, we began a renewed effort to enforce our tobacco-free policy. First, we are addressing the issue with our employees. In subsequent months, we will develop strategies to help patients remain tobacco-free during their stay with us. Everyone has to do their part. Please abide by the rules and do not smoke or use tobacco products on campus. Better yet, seek out support to help you quit for good. We have resources available to help you live tobacco-free. Visit intranet.tobaccofree.ahc.ufl.edu or tobaccofree.health.ufl.edu for more information and links to resources.
Going tobacco-free is the first step toward creating a healthier and safer environment for ourselves, our students and, most importantly, our patients.