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Upstate to offer free nicotine replacement therapy to campus visitors who smoke

Upstate to offer free nicotine replacement therapy to campus visitors who smoke

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Upstate University Hospital will begin offering nicotine replacement therapy lozenges to its visitors who want to smoke but can’t light up because of the hospital’s no-smoking policy and a county law that prohibits smoking within 100 feet of hospitals. (Upstate’s policy also prohibits tobacco and electronic cigarette use on campus.)

Beginning April 20, Upstate University Hospital will launch a 90-day pilot program to offer on-the-spot nicotine replacement therapy to visitors who are smoking while on campus. Upstate’s Clear the Air policy, enacted in 2005, prohibits tobacco use of any kind anywhere on campus.

“Our Clear the Air policy is in place for everyone’s benefit,” said Jarrod Bagatell, MD, Upstate’s director of Employee/Student Health.  “An institution dedicated to improving one’s health should provide a healthy environment for everyone who visits.

“But we understand that some people in stressful situations or times of great anxiety may settle their nerves by lighting up a cigarette,” Bagatell said.  “Since smoking is prohibited at Upstate, we hope these nicotine replacement therapy comfort kits will quell the craving for a cigarette while on our campus.”

The comfort kit will include two 4 mg nicotine-replacement lozenges, plus information on where one can get more help to quit smoking. Information on some of Upstate’s services, including its lung cancer screening program, also will be included.

Upstate staffers who observe an individual smoking on campus will offer the individual a ticket that is redeemable for a free comfort kit from a variety of campus locations, such as the main lobby of the Downtown Campus and Community Campus. The University Police Department, Ambassadors and Upstate Cancer Center greeters can assist in directing visitors to the proper locations. The tickets will be redeemable 24 hours a day and be available to anyone 18 years of age or older.

NRT or nicotine replacement therapy is the most commonly used quit-smoking medication. It provides individuals with a small controlled amount of nicotine to help satisfy a nicotine craving and reduce the urge to smoke; it has none of the dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes.

Upstate Medical University has been a pioneer of sorts in this area, becoming the first SUNY campus to prohibit smoking and tobacco use on campus. As part of the policy, the university offers its employees the opportunity to enroll in free smoking cessation programs and to receive free nicotine replacement therapy.

“Many employees who were smoking more than ten years ago have been able to quit smoking because of the support and assistance Upstate has provided,” Bagatell said. “Perhaps our offer of free nicotine replacement therapy while visiting campus will lead many of our visitors to kick the habit, too.”

Caption: Upstate will give comfort kits containing nicotine replacement lozenges to smokers on campus.