To the Daily:

I’m writing today to correct some of the faulty assumptions used by Daily columnists to argue against the smoke-free campus initiative (Coleman’s smoking gun, 04/05/2010, Banned discussion, 04/06/2010).

The decision to make all three University campuses smoke free by July 1, 2011, was made by University President Mary Sue Coleman and her executive officers based on a recommendation from the University’s chief health officer — me.

I brought the idea of taking the entire campus smoke free to President Coleman after students living in our residence halls brought their concerns to me and an associate vice president in the Division of Students Affairs. Students sought our help in finding a solution to the problem of smokers gathering outside residence hall entrances.

Some students objected to walking through smoke at the entrances. Others were concerned about smoke infiltrating rooms near the entrances.

After careful consideration for more than a year, we took a recommendation to President Coleman and her executive officers. They agreed to the smoke-free campus initiative and they agreed to our suggestion of a two-year implementation process.

Our primary motivation for implementing this policy is to take the university one more step down the path of creating a healthier environment for everyone. We are now close to the point when we will receive recommendations on implementation from five separate subcommittees.

I also want to address the smoking-cessation products that might be prescribed by University physicians to help those students, faculty or staff who choose to quit smoking. Some have raised concern about the appearance of a conflict of interest between President Coleman’s service on the board of directors of Johnson & Johnson, a company that produces some smoking-cessation products.

Simply put, there is no conflict. Prescription-only drugs for smoking cessation are generally considered the most effective and most widely used. Johnson & Johnson does not make any prescription-only smoking-cessation products.

Robert W. Winfield, M.D.
University of Michigan Chief Health Officer

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