USC hospitals on the Health Sciences Campus went smoke-free on Oct. 1 in an effort to improve the well-being of patients, visitors and employees.The two designated smoking areas that had been located adjacent to the USC University Hospital and the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital were eliminated, and smoking was also banned from the open spaces immediately surrounding several other buildings on campus.The idea of a smoke-free campus began in April, when a team of about 20 representatives of the HSC departments — including both hospitals, the Keck School of Medicine, the School of Pharmacy, and the departments of Physical and Occupational Therapy — met to discuss the initiative.Led by Sharon Lee, administrator of clinical ancillary services for the USC hospitals, the team met for six months, gaining permission for and planning last week’s transition.The team planned several measures for enforcing the new policy, including creating talking points for security and management personnel to use when approaching anyone they see smoking. The team began putting up notices about the ban in August.“We try to approach it from the perspective of creating a safe and healthy environment,” Lee said. “For not only our patients and visitors, but also our employees.”So far, the initiative hasn’t met any opposition from either the administration of any HSC departments or any smokers they’ve had to ask to stop smoking.“We understood that for some people it would be a major change,” Lee said. “So we put signs and posters up, we put it on our website, our internal Internet — for every point of entry we could identify, we put some kind of communication out.”Sarah Lerman, a first-year graduate student studying occupational therapy, attends classes at HSC and works there as a graduate assistant.“It’s smart to be promoting healthy behavior at a hospital,” Lerman said. “And it makes it so people entering and exiting the hospital don’t have to walk through clouds of smoke.”Lee and her team attribute part of their reasoning for the initiative to the increasing number of smoke-free campus policies hospitals nationwide are adopting.According to a 2009 study by The Joint Commission and researchers from the Henry Ford Health System’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, 45 percent of hospitals had smoke-free campuses in February 2008. The study predicted that the vast majority of hospitals in the United States would go smoke-free by the end of 2009.