NIH has prohibited smoking inside or in close proximity to buildings on the NIH campus for many years. Effective Wednesday, October 1, 2008, NIH will extend this prohibition to the full extent of the campus and become a tobacco-free facility. Use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco, and any other tobacco products will be prohibited both indoors and outdoors on the Bethesda campus.

This news was delivered in a recent memorandum from NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, MD. Dr. Zerhouni notes that, on November 10, 2004, the Secretary of Health and Human Services announced the Tobacco-Free HHS initiative. This policy requires that all properties owned or leased by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies be tobacco-free to the extent that labor and lease agreements permit. With this new policy, NIH will comply with that HHS directive. NIH is the nation's medical research agency. As Dr. Zerhouni writes in his memo:

"Our mission is science in the pursuit of fundamental knowledge that will advance medicine and prevent disease. When we established a Web site for the NIH tobacco-free effort, we titled it, 'Taking Our Own Best Advice.' We want a healthy and productive community. For those who have never used tobacco products or who have set them aside at an earlier time, please show compassion and understanding toward those who are stopping now. Thank you for your compliance with this important policy."

(Full text of memorandum here.)

The NIH Tobacco-Free Web site offers information about smoking cessation programs, educational materials, and answers to your questions about the tobacco-free policy. There is also a link on the site for sending e-mail to ask any additional questions. NLM's consumer-friendly MedlinePlus Web site also offers tips on quitting smoking, here.


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