UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center set date to go tobacco free

Tobacco-Free Initiative will contribute to a healthy environment and help employees, students, patients and visitors quit smoking

November 15, 2007


WORCESTER, Mass. — The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) and UMass Memorial Medical Center announced that their campuses will become tobacco-free on Tuesday, May 27, 2008, kicking off a six-month education and health effort that will eliminate the use of all tobacco products on school and medical center properties, including parking facilities. The Tobacco-Free Initiative also calls for the organizations to provide a range of resources to encourage and support individuals who already smoke in their efforts to quit.  

The announcement was made on the 30th anniversary of the American Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smokeout by Dean of the School of Medicine and Executive Deputy Chancellor Terence R. Flotte and UMass Memorial Medical Center President Walter H. Ettinger. “This is a milestone in the history of these two institutions and in the history of public health in Central Massachusetts,” said Dr. Flotte. “We have a responsibility to create a healthy environment for our patients, employees, students and visitors, and we’re committed to doing just that.”

A key component of this plan is the commitment of UMMS and UMass Memorial energy and resources necessary to make this policy successful. “As health care professionals, we recognize how challenging it can be to quit, and that’s why we’re placing such an emphasis on quitting with resources like smoking cessation counseling and nicotine replacement,” added Dr. Ettinger.

Representing a watershed for these two institutions and for public health in Central Massachusetts, UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial join the growing number of health care institutions who are responding to the well-documented health risks of smoking and second-hand smoke by going tobacco-free. Behind the scenes, a team of nearly two dozen medical school and medical center physicians, employees and smoking cessation experts have been meeting to design a workable and successful tobacco-free campus policy for more than a year, “This is something other hospitals have done successfully,” noted Tobacco-Free Initiative Director Gregory Seward.

The initiative further encourages and supports smoking cessation with counseling and treatment services. Low- or no-cost nicotine replacement therapy will be offered to all employees, students, patients and visitors who already smoke. Medical staff will be encouraged to prescribe nicotine replacement therapy to nicotine-dependent patients upon admission and to refer both inpatients and outpatients to smoking cessation resources like Quitworks, a free telephone counseling service of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.  A new Smoking Cessation Consultation service will help patients begin to quit smoking or use nicotine replacement while on campus. 

Yesterday’s announcement affords all members of the UMMS and UMass Memorial community more than six months to begin addressing their smoking cessation needs before facilities become tobacco-free next spring. Resources to assist are already beginning to be put into place, including Quitworks at www.Quitworks.org


About the University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research.  The Medical School attracts more than $176 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The work of UMMS researcher Craig Mello, PhD, an investigator of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and his colleague Andrew Fire, PhD, then of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, toward the discovery of RNA interference was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, hailed as the "Breakthrough of the Year" in 2002 by the journal Science and has spawned a new and promising field of research, the global impact of which may prove astounding. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.umassmed.edu.

About UMass Memorial Health Care
UMass Memorial Health Care is Central Massachusetts’ largest not-for-profit health care delivery system, with 1,700 physicians and over 10,000 employees.  Its comprehensive network of care includes teaching hospitals, affiliated community hospitals, freestanding primary care practices, ambulatory outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, hospice programs, a rehabilitation group and mental health services.  UMass Memorial Medical Center is a three-campus acute care hospital comprised of the University, Memorial and Hahnemann campuses. UMass Memorial Health Care is the clinical partner of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. For additional information, go to www.umassmemorial.org.