August 1, 2008

Medical Center readies for smoking ban

Featured Image

Medical Center readies for smoking ban

The areas shaded in blue represent the parts of the Medical Center campus on which smoking will be banned. (map by Medical Art Group)

The areas shaded in blue represent the parts of the Medical Center campus on which smoking will be banned. (map by Medical Art Group)

One month from today smoking will be banned from the Vanderbilt Medical Center campus.

The ban is the result of a strong statement by Medical Center administration that smoking, linked to the development of cancer, heart disease and stroke, should not occur on a hospital campus.

The Medical Center's smoking policy is being revised to reflect the changes, and additional “smoke patrol” employees are being added to adequately enforce the smoking ban, and for longer periods of time each day.

The complete smoking ban is the latest in a series of increased restrictions on campus smoking, which began in 1989 with a ban on indoor smoking. Designated or outside smoking areas were established on campus in the 1990s, and enforcement of the designated areas has been stepped up in recent years.

But those designated spots will disappear effective Sept. 1, replaced by a more vigilant group of smoke patrol employees who will guide faculty, staff, patients and visitors to the closest areas where they can smoke — essentially the sidewalks on 21st Avenue or Blakemore Avenue, said Ken Browning, director of VMC Plant Services.

Faculty and staff who want to quit smoking are being offered a series of self-help and support resources to help them do so, Browning said. And a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week hotline, 936-QUIT, has been set up to help employees find the right option.

“What will be most different from a staff perspective, once the ban goes into effect, will be the presence of smoke patrol for longer periods of time each day,” Browning said. “They will have a 15-hour-a-day presence, from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday,” Browning said.

There are currently two smoke patrol employees — Tommy Metty, the Medical Center's only full-time smoke patrol, and Joseph Glenn. In September, the number will increase to five — all supervised by a project manager. Plans call for the additional smoke patrol staff to be placed through Vanderbilt Temporary Services.

“It's one thing to tell people to go to a covered area to smoke; it's another, to tell them to go to a public sidewalk,” Browning said. “It's hard to find good smoke patrols. They're expected to go up to people and explain they're violating our rules. Not everyone is cut out for that. It will take time to get people to understand that they have to go off campus.”

Browning estimates that about 99 percent of people approached about not smoking in a given area are accepting. “Most people will do what you want, if they know what you want them to do.”

Smoking cessation resources

As the smoking ban nears, there are many ongoing and some new resources available for staff and faculty who want to stop using tobacco. The following list of resources was provided by Vanderbilt Faculty and Staff Health and Wellness.

Get Started — Call 936-QUIT to reach the Faculty and Staff Health and Wellness 24/7 quit line or visit the Web site at to find the option that is right for you.

Self-help resources

• Read the book — The No Nag, No Guilt, Do it Your Own Way, Guide to Quitting Smoking. Call Health Plus at 343-8943 or e-mail to receive a copy.

• Online support — available at where you can use the free online Quit Wizard to track your progress and get helpful tips along the way.

• Get your free tool-kit — A variety of useful items are included in this kit, including a book, mints, quick tips and more. Stop by Health Plus, the Occupational Health Clinic, Work/Life Connections-EAP or any of the Child and Family Centers to get one.

Medical resources

• See your primary care provider (PCP) for help — Your PCP can provide counseling, advice on nicotine replacement and may prescribe medicine to help you quit. You may use the Occupational Health's Quit Rx for up to two month's prescription or over-the-counter stop smoking medicines. Find a provider by calling 936-6963.

• Occupational Health's Smoking Cessation program — includes the Quit Rx program for evaluation and treatment. Whether you see OHC or your PCP, you can obtain up to two months of specified medications, covered as a benefit. The program covers Chantix, nicotine patches and Zyban. Call 936-0955 to schedule an appointment or for more information.

• The Kim Dayani Center — offers an eight-week program including counseling and medication, on-site or in your department, that is covered by benefits. To register call Barbara Forbes, M.S., at 322-4751 or e-mail

Support resources

• Nicotine Anonymous support group — On campus support group that meets weekly. Call Work/Life Connections-EAP at 936-1327 for more information.

• One-on-one coaching — Individualized support and encouragement, by phone or in person, to help you meet your wellness goal. Make an appointment with a Health Plus Wellness Coach by calling 343-8943.

• Stress and coping skills counseling — learn relaxation techniques and stress resilience from a licensed counselor at Work/Life Connections-EAP. Make an appointment by calling 936-1327.

Resources for managers

• Manager tool-kit — Work/Life Connections-EAP provides tool-kits designed to help managers give support to staff and colleagues making the transition to a smoke-free life.

Call Work/Life Connections-EAP at 936-1327 or visit to download a copy.