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Q: Who does the tobacco free policy apply to?

Everyone while they are at any Portland-area OHSU facility or on OHSU grounds.

Q: Are there any designated smoking areas for employees, patients, and visitors?

No. Providing a place to smoke does not support our goal to create a healthier environment for our patients, families, employees, and visitors.

Q: What about other locations where OHSU leases space?

The tobacco-free environment covers all Portland-area property owned or leased and occupied by OHSU.

Q: What about the non-OHSU facilities next to the Marquam Hill campus?

There are three neighboring facilities next to the OHSU Marquam Hill campus: the Portland VA Medical Center, Shriners Hospital for Children - Portland, and the Ronald McDonald House. Representatives from each of these organizations are participating in the planning of the OHSU initiative. Shriners hospital is exploring also becoming tobacco-free in the near future. The VA will maintain smoking areas, which they are required to do through federal regulations.

Q: What exactly does the policy prohibit?

Use of all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, all forms of smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes, and other products made primarily with tobacco.

Q: Isn't it a person's right to use tobacco?

Tobacco is still a legal product for adults. Today, about 1 out of 5 adult Oregonians use tobacco. OHSU will not try to force anyone to quit tobacco use entirely. However, OHSU will continue to set policies regarding activity on our premises and to create an environment that we believe is in the best interest of the health and well-being of our employees, students, patients and visitors.

Q: Why not ban other unhealthy substances, like high-fat foods?

In accordance with its mission, OHSU is continually seeking ways to create a healthier environment. In recent years we've added healthier food choices in our cafeterias and sought to create a more sustainable environment through our recycling efforts and "green" building practices, to name a few examples. However, the health risks and damaging effects of tobacco use – including the harm to others from second-hand smoke – far surpass those of other unhealthy substances.

Q: Is smoking in one's car okay since that is personal property?

OHSU expects all employees, students and visitors not to smoke while they are anywhere on the OHSU campus and refrain from smoking until they leave the campus.

Q: When was the policy implemented?

The new policy went into effect on Sept. 17, 2007.

Q: How is the policy enforced?

Our Public Safety department has developed a coordinated approach to promote compliance with the policy. Public Safety officers routinely speak to anyone who is observed smoking on the campus, remind them of the policy, and offer assistance. OHSU provides free nicotine replacement for any visitor who needs additional assistance to manage while on campus and offers a full benefit to any employee who wants to quit.

We expect all our employees to comply with the policy and employees who are repeatedly observed smoking on the campus are referred to their manager to help resolve the problem. If someone observes employees or visitors repeatedly smoking in specific areas on campus and reports the "hot spot" to Public Safety (4-7744), the "hot spot" is targeted for extra signs, clean up, and additional monitoring.,/p>

In addition to Public Safety staff, we encourage all OHSU employees, especially managers, to assist in maintaining a tobacco-free environment by helping ensure everyone is aware of the policy. To enforce this policy:

  • We are firm, but courteous and respectful.
  • The emphasis is on education and support.
  • Compliance is high when both leadership and employees are smoke-free role models in the community—that's our goal.
  • Signs are posted at all entrances and placed in strategic locations throughout the campus.
  • People applying for positions at OHSU are told up-front that we have a tobacco-free policy.
  • Patients and their families are informed of the policy as much as possible before they arrive at OHSU (e.g. by the scheduler in outpatient clinics; through the preadmission process). Once here, they are reminded again at the time they park and at registration in the hospital and outpatient clinics. By providing as much advance information as possible, we help patients better prepare for their stay at OHSU.

Q: How will you handle employees who violate the policy?

Employees who violate the policy, like everyone else, will first be reminded that OHSU is a tobacco-free institution and directed to resources to provide assistance to either manage their cravings or to quit. Subsequent violations result in referral to their manager for follow-up and, if necessary, progressive disciplinary action similar to those taken if an employee violated any other OHSU policy.

Q: What should a staff member do who sees a fellow employee, patient or visitor smoking?

The staff member should, with utmost courtesy and respect, explain that OHSU – in order to promote a healthy environment for its patients, staff and visitors – does not permit smoking on its grounds. Business sized "referral cards" with this message and with information about how to find resources to help are available to hand out.  If the person continues smoking anyway, staff members are encouraged to walk away and contact Public Safety (4-7744).

If staff members observe repeated smoking in certain areas, they should contact Public Safety (4-7744) and report the location. Public Safety will coordinate a response that includes adding more signs, additional monitoring, and clean-up.

Resources for OHSU managers and staff to help learn how best to approach smokers in these situations are available on the Tobacco Free website (www.ohsu.edu/tobaccofree). We recognize that not everyone will feel comfortable approaching smokers, but encourage all employees to assist with compliance in some way.

Q. Do Public Safety Officers issue citations or arrest people who refuse to stop?

No. In the rare case where an employee refuses to follow the policy, the Department of Public Safety will forward the employee's name to a supervisor for follow up. If a visitor, patient, or member of the public refuses to follow the policy, Public Safety may instruct that person to leave OHSU property.

Q: What happens for patients and family members who may rely on tobacco to relieve their stress?

Tobacco cessation resources are available to assist patients and family members while they are on campus. Medications to help alleviate the stress of withdrawal are readily available.

Q: What do you say to a visitor who is under so much stress they have to have a cigarette?

As health care professionals, we are trained to deal with families in crisis every day, with compassion and support. We are dedicated to helping people through tough times and are helping our visitors comply with the policy as well. There are times when we have to use our best judgment in how we interact with patients' families and visitors in tragic and stressful situations. But in general, we will ask everyone to refrain from using tobacco.

Q: What resources are available to help employees?

OHSU offers a full benefit for employees who want to quit. OHSU also offers coaching for employees who are not ready to quit and want help in managing during their workday. For details, go to www.ohsu.edu/tobaccofreesupport.

Q: What is the benefit for employees?

OHSU provides a comprehensive benefit for all employees and covered dependents.  For more information, visit the Tobacco Cessation Support web page at 

Q: What happens to employees who do not stop smoking?

Employees are not required to stop smoking or using tobacco and the policy is not meant to force anyone to quit. But employees are not permitted to use tobacco anywhere on the campus. Similar to the regulations in the restaurant and air travel industries, employees need to find a way to manage their need for nicotine without using tobacco on campus during the work day. Support will be offered to employees interested in how to manage their cravings during the work day.

Q: What are my options if I'm not ready to quit?

Employees or students who are not ready to quit can use one of the over-the-counter medications to curb cravings during the workday. OHSU recommends nicotine lozenges because they are easier to use than nicotine gum and are faster acting and more versatile than nicotine patches.

Q: How much do the lozenges cost?

We estimate that a person might use about four, 4 mg nicotine lozenges during the workday. The average cost per lozenge is about $.50, so the cost per day is about $2.00.