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Emory's tobacco-free environment helps employees quit smoking

Six years ago, Emory adopted a tobacco-free policy, significantly reducing tobacco use across campus. The university offers multiple resources, from webinars and counseling to free medications, for employees who want help quitting.

Six years ago, Emory adopted a tobacco-free policy, significantly reducing tobacco use across campus. Around that same time, Pat Woodard, a business manager in the School of Medicine, also decided to give up smoking for good.

Woodard says her inspiration for quitting was a promise she made to her daughter, who had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. “I promised her if she would have her chemotherapy treatments in Atlanta as opposed to Albany, where she was attending college, then I would quit smoking,” she says.

Emory became a tobacco-free campus in 2012 to support the health and wellbeing of faculty, staff, students and patients.

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. It leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body,” says Michael Staufacker, director of health management. “By becoming a tobacco-free campus, we not only started to create a culture of health here at Emory, we also helped to encourage and support many employees and students to quit smoking.”

Quitting is hard for many, but with some pre-planning and support, it is achievable. Staufacker recommends the following steps to be successful in quitting:

1. Make a specific plan to quit — preparation is key.
2. Manage your cravings and understand your triggers.
3. Ask for support from family, friends, co-workers and other important people in your life.

Support was key for Woodard, who credits a co-worker for helping her give up the habit. “Betsy Rothschild was very instrumental and thoughtful throughout my process,” she explains. “She would leave little trinkets for my monthly quit-day anniversaries. The most thoughtful one was the time she used a tongue depressor and taped a mini candy bar to it with a sentimental note of encouragement.”

Emory also offers support, resources and tools to help those who want to give up tobacco, from webinars and counseling to free medications.

“It’s never too late to quit,” adds Staufacker. “Quitting now will improve your health and reduce your risk of many smoking-related illnesses. That’s why Emory continues to offer programs to help people who want to give up smoking.”

“Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things I have ever done,” Woodard reflects. “However, as I enter into my sixth year of being smoke-free, the benefits far outweigh the struggles. No more colds, constant coughs or bronchitis, and no more stinky clothes!”

Employees interested in tobacco cession should explore several important resources:

CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health

Emory’s Tobacco-Cessation Resources

Students interested in tobacco cessation should reach out to Willie Bannister, LPC, associate director, substance abuse risk reduction, at or by calling 404-727-0395.

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