Davis leads Duke's smoke free initiative

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Duke University President, Vincent Price, recently announced the adoption of a new policy to become smoke-free on all property and grounds owned and leased by Duke University beginning July 1, 2020. As part of this effort, Duke Stores will also discontinue the sale of tobacco products by July 1 of this year. 

GIM Assistant Professor and Medical Director for Duke Center for Smoking Cessation, James Davis, MD, has been leading this initiative for over a year. 

A Part of Healthy Duke
"The Smoke-Free Initiative is part of Healthy Duke.  Now that Duke leadership has embraced the initiative, we are poised to improve health across the entire Duke community," explains Davis. 

The policy will prohibit the use of combustible tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, and hookahs, but it will not apply to non-combustible forms of tobacco such as e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or therapeutic products containing nicotine.  

Plan Development
"For a full year we conducted interviews with individuals and groups around campus – this included students, faculty and employees.  These interviews included people who smoke and people who don’t smoke. What we found was that there was wide support for a smoke-free policy within every group on campus, as long as we could implement the policy in a way that would not marginalize people within our community for having an addiction," says Davis. "From these many conversations, we realized that what people at Duke want is a policy that will improve the health of our community, but will not marginalize those among us who smoke or who are unable to quit smoking. There were two approaches that were seen as essential to the policy to support to people in our community who smoke.” 

  1. Provide free, easily accessible, evidence-based treatment to those with tobacco dependence. 
  2. Allow use of e-cigarettes outdoors, so that people who are unable to quit smoking, may use an e-cigarette and be in compliance with the policy. 

Next Steps
The new policy will be implemented over a two-year period. This extended period is provided allow sufficient time for members of the Duke community to seek tobacco treatment. The Duke Smoking Cessation Program, led by Davis is joining forces with Employee Health and Student Health to offer a free, evidence-based tobacco treatment program to employees and students who want to quit smoking.

"We are now at a point in history when then evidence for the harms of combustible tobacco is undeniable and we as a community can no longer endorse it. We can’t afford it; and it is time to stand against it."

"We know a lot more than we once did about smoking. It is tremendously lethal and causes suffering in so many people. We are now at a point in history when then evidence for the harms of combustible tobacco is undeniable and we as a community can no longer endorse it. We can’t afford it; and it is time to stand against it," says Davis. 

This new policy reflects Duke's commitment to the health of every person who studies or works at Duke.
​You can also find more information about this initiative on the Healthy Duke website.

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