OHSU Goes Tobacco Free in September

02/23/11  Portland, Ore.

Oregon Health & Science University is set to becomes Oregon’s largest employer to initiate a tobacco-free policy for its Portland-area facilities.

The A policy prohibiting the use of all tobacco products in or around its OHSU's facilities campuses and off-campus buildings goes into effect Sept. 17. The new policy , and applies to employees, students, visitors, patients and patient family members.

Said OHSU President, Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A, said, “As Oregon’s only academic health care center, our knowledge about the health risks of tobacco led us to set the highest standard in maintaining a healthy environment for our patients and employees. This policy is crucial to our commitment to health on our campuses and a healthy lifestyle for all Oregonians, and we hope we will be a model for others.”

The policy applies to all Portland area OHSU facilities, including all the OHSU buildings on Marquam Hill and South Waterfront, OHSU offices in downtown Portland, and the West Campus in Washington County.

Peter Kohler, M.D., OHSU president emeritus, began the tobacco-free effort in 2006, and he has continued to serve as chairman of the program. The program began by surveying both tobacco users and non-users, and that information was then used to develop strategies for the transition to a tobacco-free environment. Employees are not being asked to quit using tobacco, but only to refrain from its use during work hours on campus. To assist employees and students who wish to manage their tobacco use, and those who plan to quit, the university expanded its benefit program to offer free educational programs, counseling and nicotine replacement medications.

When the no-tobacco policy goes into effect in September, OHSU will also will offer patients and their visitors who smoke support to manage their nicotine cravings. Support methods include counseling, free nicotine lozenges and other medications to relieve the stress of withdrawal. Patient-care staff are also being trained also to best help patients and families to cope with the policy.

Oregon Health & Science UniverOHSU is the state’s only health and research university, and its only academic health center. OHSU is Portland’s largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government). OHSU serves more than 184,000 patients, and is a conduit for learning for over more than 3,900 students and trainees in health care.