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Creating more room to breathe

MIT Medical is first building on campus to be 100 percent tobacco-free inside and out
Dr. William Kettyle, medical director of MIT Medical, 'installs' one of the new signs that will be placed around Building E23, signifying the new tobacco-free zone within 25 feet of MIT Medical.
Caption:
Dr. William Kettyle, medical director of MIT Medical, 'installs' one of the new signs that will be placed around Building E23, signifying the new tobacco-free zone within 25 feet of MIT Medical.
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Photo: MIT Medical

There's now more room to breathe around MIT Medical. Joining area hospitals in an effort to curb the harmful effects of tobacco, MIT Medical will be 100 percent tobacco-free, both inside and outside Building E23 — the first building on campus to adopt this full-scale approach.

"We are here to provide every member of our community a safe and healthy environment," said William Kettyle, M.D., medical director of MIT Medical. "Although we respect each individual's right to choose to use tobacco products, we ask that everyone refrain from using such products within 25 feet of MIT Medical."

'Tobacco-free'

"Tobacco-free' means no tobacco use of any kind by staff, patients or visitors. This includes both traditional and electronic cigarettes, as well as smokeless tobacco products. Starting in September, all cigarette butt receptacles within 25 feet of MIT Medical will be removed, and signage will be posted around the building exterior including all entrances.

"A significant part of our mission is to support and promote healthy behaviors, with the goal of helping our community members achieve success in their studies, work and personal lives," said Lauren Mayhew, tobacco treatment specialist in Community Wellness at MIT Medical. "The new tobacco-free zone is part of that mission."

Mayhew heads an MIT Medical committee assembled in January 2011 in response to an appeal by the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to encourage hospitals to become smoke-free, both inside and out. More than 2,700 hospitals and 530 colleges and universities in the United States are now 100 percent smoke- or tobacco-free.

Helping smokers quit

"We care about smokers," Mayhew said. "Research shows that approximately 70 percent of smokers want to quit. MIT Medical's quit-smoking programs are available free of charge to any member of the MIT community. Getting started is as simple as sending an email to helpmequit@med.mit.edu."

With most campus buildings already smoke-free indoors, Kettyle hopes other buildings will voluntarily join the effort to become 100 percent tobacco-free outside. "MIT has a long tradition of successful programs evolving in this manner," he said. "As the university's healthcare provider and advocate, it made sense for us to lead the movement."

MIT Medical is prepared to share its experience and resources with other MIT buildings or departments that want to become tobacco-free. To learn more about MIT Medical's new tobacco-free initiative (dubbed "Room to Breathe"), or to inquire about the MIT Medical's quit-smoking programs, contact Mayhew at 617-258-6965 or mayh@med.mit.edu.

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