September 30, 2009 — Beginning Thursday, smoking will be prohibited in areas that are part of a "Clean Air Zone" on University of Virginia Medical Center property. This includes areas in front of University Hospital, the Primary Care Center, the Medical Center's outpatient clinics, the parking garages and the Elson Student Health Center. (A map of smoke-free areas is available here.)
To ease the transition to the smoke-free environment for staff and patients, the Medical Center has promoted smoking cessation programs and developed free comfort kits for visitors that include distractions and hard candy. U.Va. employees can utilize a smoking cessation program that is part of their benefits package and includes free access to Quit Coaches and three months of free nicotine replacement therapy. So far, 144 employees have enrolled in the program.
"We want to protect staff, patients and visitors from secondhand smoke, which causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke," said Dr. Jonathon Truwit, the Medical Center's chief medical officer. "We also want to be considerate of people who smoke and provide resources to ease their cravings or help them quit."