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Coral Gables Campus Goes 100 Percent Smoke-Free on August 1

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    Signs such as this one will soon be posted around UM's Coral Gables campus.

    Signs such as this one will soon be posted around UM’s Coral Gables campus.

    Continuing a commitment to provide a safe and healthy environment for faculty, staff, students, and visitors, the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus will go fully smoke-free on August 1.

    The new policy comes two years after the University created designated smoking areas on its Coral Gables campus as part of its Smoke-Free Campus Initiative. Come August 1, however, smoking will no longer be allowed anywhere on the Gables campus. That means inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigarette or electronic cigarette, cigar, pipe or other such device that contains tobacco or other smoke-producing products will be prohibited in all areas of the campus.

    “We are steadfast in our commitment to create a healthy living and working environment,” said UM President Donna E. Shalala, a former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services. “We’re going completely smoke free for our students, employees, visitors, and friends.”

    New “Breathe Freely” signs will soon be posted in many locations around the Coral Gables campus, serving as a reminder that smoking is no longer allowed in any areas. With the new 100 percent smoke-free policy, the Coral Gables campus will join the Miller School of Medicine campus, which has been entirely smoke free since March 2010.

    “Through our new wellness philosophy, the university is working to create a healthier workplace. The smoke-free initiative works to advance this goal,” said Nerissa E. Morris, vice president of human resources and chair of the UM Wellness Advisory Council. “As the Coral Gables campus prepares to go fully smoke-free, Well ’Canes will continue to offer smoking-cessation programs and additional resources to help smokers quit.”

    Among those resources is UM’s award-winning smoking cessation program, BeSmokeFree. The six-week program, which is free to UM employees and their family members, offers education, counseling, and free quit-smoking aids such as nicotine replacement gum, lozenges, and patches. The program will also cover the full cost of prescriptions for Chantix, a medication used to treat smoking addiction. Classes are held at the Coral Gables campus’s Herbert Wellness Center and at the Miller School’s Medical Wellness Center.

    “It’s been a tremendous help for many employees. For those who relapse, they can take the class again,” said Virginia Perez, BeSmokeFree program director. For more information on BeSmokeFree, call 305-243-7606.

    UM’s smoke-free policy began with a student-led initiative and is backed by Student Government, the Graduate Student Association, and Student Bar Association. A recent survey of 2,186 UM students found 63 percent agree or strongly agree on having a completely smoke-free campus.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports on its website that “smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general” and that “quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits for you and your loved ones.”

    The dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke have been documented as well. The findings of an October 2009 Institute of Medicine Report, Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects, indicate that there is about a 25 to 30 percent increase in the risk of coronary heart disease from exposure to secondhand smoke.


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