As South Carolina’s academic health center and home to the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer institute in the state, it is a part of our mission to prevent cancer and to lead by example in providing the healthiest environment possible for everyone on our campus. In March of 2012, acting upon the recommendations of the Student Government Association, faculty senate, and board of trustees, MUSC became a tobacco-free campus.
In October of 2012, MUSC was named a Gold Star by the South Carolina Hospital Association for creating a tobacco-free environment and for providing comprehensive cessation support resources. In addition, we led a coalition of colleges and universities in the state seeking the opportunity to set campus-specific policies concerning tobacco use, H. 4092, which was passed by legislators in June of 2012. As the first tobacco-free campus in the state, we are working with our sister institutions to create their own policies and cessation efforts.
While these efforts have benefited many, the migration of smokers to public sidewalks and properties adjacent to Roper and MUSC created an unhealthy environment for those who must walk through these areas to visit our campuses as well as for private citizens and business owners living and working near our campuses. In response to these concerns, we proposed and passed a smoke free medical district ordinance to protect the health and well-being of our employees, students, patients, and visitors. Effective March 1, 2013, the use of tobacco products are prohibited on all streets and sidewalks within the Medical District as defined by the City of Charleston ordinance as well as all property owned or leased by MUSC. Amendments to the tobacco free campus policy also prohibit the use of tobacco products by staff on private properties adjacent to the Medical District without explicit approval from the property owner.
The MUSC Department of Public Safety and Medical Center Safety and Security will provide enforcement of this ordinance as well as our existing tobacco-free campus policy and will focus primarily on education and public awareness, with ticketing a last resort when dealing with violations. We understand that asking people to move further from our campuses may be a hardship when dealing with the physical effects of nicotine addiction.
As a major health care provider and educator, MUSC has a responsibility to lead by example. Your commitment to not just lead, but model healthy behaviors through a supportive culture is what makes MUSC an impressive example to hospitals, businesses, and higher education of an innovative, health promoting organization. Working together, we can continue to change what’s possible.