In keeping with our mission to provide a healthy environment for our employees, patients and visitors, the University of Kansas Medical Center, The University of Kansas Hospital, Medical Administrative Services of KU and Kansas University Physicians, Inc. (UKP) became entirely tobacco-free on September 1, 2006. The use of tobacco products are prohibited inside and outside anywhere considered to be a part of our campus property. This policy applies to all faculty, staff, employees, students, contractors, volunteers, patients and guests at all locations.
One of the many key reasons for our decision is our role as health care leaders, providers and educators in the community and throughout the state. Studies, many conducted by our KU colleagues, have proven time and again that tobacco is a leading cause of death from many diseases, both for those who use tobacco products and those who are exposed to them on a second-hand basis. For many years, we have discussed the inconsistency of advocating a healthy lifestyle while continuing to allow the use of tobacco products on campus. These reasons all bolster the need for our decision to become tobacco-free.
Why did we undertake this initiative?
It is our mission and responsibility to promote the health and safety of everyone on our campus and the communities we serve.
What is the impact of tobacco use in Kansas?
Tobacco is the cause of death for 3,800 Kansans every year and is the root cause of many illnesses and lost productivity. Tobacco use in and around our campus buildings poses health and safety risks for patients, students, employees and visitors.
What health care organizations have gone to tobacco-free in Kansas?
Kansas hospitals joined together with a goal of being tobacco-free by Jan. 1, 2007. As health care organizations, we are committed to the health and safety of our employees, students and patients. We believe that we have a responsibility to take a leadership role on this major health issue, and allowing people to use tobacco products defeats this purpose.
Do employees, students, patients and visitors have to quit using tobacco?
No. The policy does not require anyone to stop using tobacco. The policy simply means staff, students, contractors, patients and visitors who use tobacco abide by this policy on university and hospital property, including parking lots and other off-campus locations.
How does tobacco use decrease or hinder our ability to carry out our daily job functions?
This initiative is not about job performance. It is about creating a healthy environment.
If a visitor or patient refuses to stop using a tobacco product, will we call the police?
No. We will not call the police. If employees have given the visitor or patient a reminder card and asked politely that they stop using tobacco products, we've done our best. Cultural changes like this can take time, and we can't expect everyone to be compliant right away.
Can I be fired for tobacco use?
Employees who repeatedly ignore the policy will face disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment.