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Hopkins’ public health school bans tobacco – sort of
(Photograph by Tomasz Sienicki / Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Hopkins’ public health school bans tobacco – sort of

Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health just announced the launch of its “Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative,” but that’s a bit of a misnomer.

The policy prohibits the use of any tobacco product — as well as electronic cigarettes — in all buildings, facilities and vehicles that are part of the Bloomberg School.

However, the policy simply “discourages” tobacco use on outdoor campus grounds; it does not actually forbid it. So in that sense, the Bloomberg School’s policy is much narrower than policies elsewhere around the state.

For example, the University System of Maryland requires all 12 of its institutions’ campuses be to be smoke-free, including in outdoor spaces, structures and inside university-owned vehicles. That policy went into effect June 30 of last year.

Other colleges and universities — as well as a number of health systems — also have smoke-free campuses. Policies vary, with some institutions allowing smoking in designated outdoor areas but others eliminating those areas.

But there’s an important distinction between tobacco-free and smoke-free.

Many fewer institutions have policies that cover smokeless tobacco in addition to cigarettes. So in that sense, the Bloomberg School’s policy goes beyond the USM policy.

Bloomberg also addresses the issue of e-cigarettes, which heat liquid into a vapor that users inhale. Those so-called “e-juices” usually contain nicotine, but not always.

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore recently announced a ban on electronic smoking devices, at the same time it announced the elimination of designated cigarette-smoking areas.

Many other institutions, however, including most universities, have not yet clarified their rules regarding e-cigarettes.

“As a school of public health, we are dedicated to promoting the well-being of the global community,” Bloomberg School of Public Health Dean Michael J. Klag said in a statement. “With the Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative, we are taking steps to also promote our own health as well.”

By deterring smoking and other forms of tobacco use, the School of Public Health hopes to demonstrate that officials don’t want to reinforce nicotine addiction among students, faculty and staff. The school also plans to promote the smoking cessation services that are included in student and employee health insurance plans.

Other local institutions have gone even further in the fight against tobacco. Anne Arundel Medical Center recently announced it would stop hiring smokers, though current employees would not be fired.

That policy came under fire from some civil liberties advocates, but hospital officials maintained that they have the right to implement whatever hiring criteria they see fit.

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