UCSF goes completely smoke free

By Kirsten Michener

UCSF will go completely smoke-free tomorrow, November 20, which is Great American Smoke-out Day.

All faculty, staff, students, patients and visitors will be able to breathe air that is free from harmful cigarette smoke under a new policy that covers all UCSF owned and leased properties.

In 2006, the Surgeon General’s Report on the Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking concluded that “there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.” 

The new policy eliminates the last two designated smoking areas that had remained on UCSF sites, one at Parnassus and one at Mount Zion.  “We feel as a health sciences campus, this will promote better health for our employees and our patients,” said Adrienne Green, MD, associate clinical professor in the Division of Hospital Medicine, co-interim chief medical officer and co-chair of the UCSF smoke free taskforce.

For smokers who are admitted to UCSF Medical Center, there is an improved process for identifying these individuals, initiating nicotine replacement therapy to prevent withdrawal symptoms, and providing smoking cessation counseling.  According to Green, the policy change and these more focused efforts will work together to reinforce positive results. 

Green says that “when people are in the hospital, it’s a very good time to talk to them about quitting smoking.” A smoking cessation counselor meets with patients who are identified as smokers to assess their readiness to quit and to offer one-on-one counseling to help develop healthy strategies for a non-smoking lifestyle past their hospital stay.

Benefits of the smoking cessation program will extend to UCSF employees and faculty as well as patients.  As the second-largest employer in the city, the UCSF smoke-free policy has potential to impact a large number of people who need an extra push or a gentle reminder that today is the best day to quit, according to Green.  UCSF will pay for smoking cessation classes for all employees, both those of the campus and of the medical center.  “The focus is not just on patients,” she emphasized.

Gina Intinarelli, a registered nurse and doctoral student in health policy in the UCSF School of Nursing, said that research shows that smoke free policies decrease employee smoking prevalence rates and increase job satisfaction.

Maps indicating UCSF smoke-free zones are available at:

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