Hospital smokers step over to UVM

Students and faculty may wonder why Fletcher Allen Heath Care (FAHC) employees are smoking on UVM property, instead of a designated area on hospital grounds. Graduate student Andrew Lutz said he is one of many students upset by hospital workers smoking on UVM campus. “Currently, Fletcher Allen is a smoke-free property, so smokers feel their only option is to stand just over the line on UVM property to smoke,” Lutz said. “I understand why Fletcher Allen has created a no smoking area, but I find it ironic that they turn a blind eye to a public health issue 30 feet from their doors.” Lutz said he believes this issue could be avoided if the smokers were given a separate area to smoke away from UVM property. “I believe the most effective way to solve the issue would be for Fletcher Allen to set up a small enclosure outside on their property where smoking is permitted,” he said. Evelyn Sikorski, manager of Fletcher Allen’s tobacco treatment program, said she believes FAHC and UVM should work together to fix the issue but disagrees with Lutz’s opinion to h andle the situation. “I do not think that providing a smoking area on Fletcher Allen campus is the answer,” Sikorski said. FAHC’s tobacco cessation program provides a counseling service to people who want to quit smoking. It has made a lot of progress in the past few years, according to the FAHC website. Giving workers a separate area would be a quick solution, but it would interfere with the work the treatment program has done, Sikorski said She said that although she does not think the best solution would be to give hospital workers a smoking area on hospital property, she believes that the litter is a serious problem. Mike Dubois, supervisor of grounds at UVM, said he agrees that the litter issue needs to be addressed. The litter from the cigarettes increases the workload for the physical plant crew and disturbs the campus aesthetics, Dubois said. “The litter reveals that people using these areas need to be more responsible for the space they use,” he said. Dr. Robert Jenkins of UVM said that not only is the litter irritating, but that he has to walk through the smoke every day on his lunch break. “I am particularly sensitive to smoke, so passing through even small amounts of secondhand smoke bothers me,” Jenkins said. Lutz, Sikorski and Jenkins said they hope for more communication between FAHC and UVM to find a solution to this problem. “I think that it is very odd that Fletcher Allen does not have a place for its employees and patients to smoke, [but] they are happy for it to take place on UVM property,” Jenkins said.