Beginning July 1, 2014, UPMC staff, including employees, physicians, students and volunteers, will become smoke and tobacco-free throughout the work day. This step is part of an ongoing commitment to provide the highest quality care in western Pennsylvania, an exceptional experience for patients, and opportunities for employees to be as healthy as possible. UPMC joins like-minded health care leaders in the nation, including Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic, in becoming a tobacco-free workplace. UPMC campuses have been smoke-free since 2007.
“Our patients are best cared for, and both patients and visitors have the best experience when our employees are at their very healthiest and when the workplace is free of tobacco,” said Gregory Peaslee, UPMC’s senior vice president and chief human resources and administrative services officer. “This initiative takes us a step further in solidifying our commitment to our patients and to our valued employees.”
UPMC will provide staff with intensive support and preparation so that they can work without needing smoke breaks. UPMC will continue to hire smokers. For current staff and those newly hired, UPMC will promote an environment that encourages and supports those who choose to quit.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco use is the single leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. and the world, and is a major cause of disability,” said Hilary Tindle, M.D., M.P.H., UPMC smoking cessation expert and assistant professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “We understand the difficulty of quitting, despite a desire by many of our employees to do so. Sometimes a smoker needs more than one attempt before success. Through smoking cessation coaching and other forms of medical support, we will help employees to become smoke-free at work and to quit tobacco use overall if they choose to do so.”
A comprehensive behavior modification program, including online support and one-on-one counseling with health coaches, already has assisted hundreds of staff in their goal to quit tobacco use. Various medications are available that can enhance the chances of successfully quitting, including nicotine patches, gum, nasal spray, oral inhalers and lozenges, and non-nicotine tablets.
“We have a wide array of highly effective resources and support services available through our employee assistance program, so that staff will be able to work through the day without tobacco use. For those who want to quit, these resources will offer a great shot at success,” said Timothy Cline, Ph.D., Senior Director, Clinical Training and Development, UPMC Health Plan, who specializes in behavioral approaches to smoking cessation.
UPMC has a long record of success helping employees achieve better health. The National Business Group on Health has recognized UPMC as one of the best employers for healthy lifestyles in the country for five consecutive years.
Forty-four million Americans smoke tobacco, and despite 70 percent reporting they want to quit, only 45 percent try each year. Eighteen percent of the U.S. population report tobacco use, and 11 percent of UPMC’s staff report tobacco use.