HealthCommentary

Exploring Human Potential

Smoke-Free America

Posted on | November 11, 2008 | No Comments

Creating tobacco free campusesIn health care, it can sometimes feel like we’re just spinning our wheels — examples of progress appear few and far between and getting ahead of the disease curve seems just out of reach. But when a ray of hope comes shooting through the clouds, it’s often because good science has met with good policy. Smoking bans in the workplace are a good example – they now exist in many U.S. states. And the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now taking us one step further, toward a concept it calls the "Tobacco Free Campus” or TFC Initiative.

The CDC says, "Policies establishing smoke-free environments are the most effective way to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. Evidence has shown that smoke-free policies in enclosed workplace settings are associated with reduced daily cigarette consumption among employees and possibly with increased cessation among employees.” The new Tobacco Free Campus (TFC) Initiative is meant to extend these benefits, by creating tobacco-free campuses that create work environments in which tobacco users find it easier to reduce their consumption or quit altogether.

A CDC team worked with Atlanta-area labor unions to implement a two-phase TFC plan: providing expanded tobacco use cessation services for CDC employees nationwide in phase one and the establishment of completely tobacco-free CDC campuses wherever possible in phase two. As a result of this initiative, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services announced that all HHS campuses would be going tobacco-free and that all HHS agencies would provide tobacco-use cessation services to employees as part of the Tobacco-Free HHS initiative. In August 2005, CDC completed negotiations with Atlanta-area labor representatives, thereby enabling all CDC-owned property in the area, as well as that in other parts of the country not affected by current labor agreements, to go tobacco-free. CDC was among the first HHS agencies to implement Tobacco-Free HHS at multiple campuses across the United States." 

Why is all of this important? Just look at the numbers: Global tobacco use claims nearly 5 million lives per year. The toll is projected to rise to 10 million deaths annually by the year 2020. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. One out of every five deaths, close to a half a million per year in the United States, is the result of tobacco.

A toolkit is available to create a Tobacco Free Campus in your community at the CDC web site. Why delay? Start a TFC Initiative in your own community.

As always, you can learn by watching this week’s video, embedded with this blog, or by reading the full transcript, below. The get involved in the discussion – leave a comment and let us know how you feel about secondhand smoke and smoke-free workplaces. 

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