260502 Compliance with a new tobacco-free campus policy at a large academic medical center

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kristen Bylund, RN, MPHc , School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Abigail Halperin, MD, MPH , University of Washington, School of Medicine and Public Health, UW Tobacco Studies Program, Seattle, WA
Beatriz Carlini, MPH, PhD , Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Background: Smoke and tobacco-free hospital campuses are recommended by the Joint Commission to provide a healthy and safe environment for patients, staff and visitors. This study was undertaken to determine level of compliance with, and initial impact of, adopting a tobacco-free policy on the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) campus.

Methods: Two series of observational walks were conducted around the UWMC campus and an adjacent non-hospital university parking lot before and after the new policy closed three UWMC smoking areas. The number of smokers and discarded cigarette butts were counted at 17 predetermined zones, including the former smoking areas and other smoking ‘hot spots' around the campus.

Results: The average number of smokers observed on the UWMC campus decreased by half, from 9.1 before to 4.5 after the policy, while smokers observed on the adjacent non-hospital university lot increased from 1.8 to 4.6 afterwards. While the number of cigarette butts remained similar on the UWMC campus pre- and post-policy, it more than doubled in the adjacent parking lot (from 196 to 511).

Conclusion: While the number of observed smokers decreased on the UWMC campus after the new policy, there was an increase in both smokers and cigarette butts on the adjacent non-hospital university property, suggesting that a large number of smokers shifted from the hospital campus to the nearby university parking lot, thus undermining the purpose of the policy. A university-wide smoke free campus policy would be more effective in reducing both tobacco smoke exposure and toxic cigarette litter.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe the rationale, processes and impact of implementing a new tobacco-free campus policy at a large academic medical center, and discuss the successes and challenges of the project.

Keywords: Tobacco Policy, Smoking

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the principal investigator on this project and have been working and teaching in the field of tobacco control policy for 14 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.