State government begins setting no-smoke example

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The Washington state Department of Health is now the first cabinet-level agency in the state to have an entirely tobacco-free main campus, starting today.

Signs were posted on the agency's Tumwater campus to alert employees and visitors tobacco use is no longer allowed, officials said. The new policy includes all areas of the complex. It applies to the four office buildings, parking garage, vehicles, common areas, and on-campus sidewalks.

The rule includes smokeless tobacco products such as snuff and chew.

A similar policy is in place at the agency's laboratories in Shoreline.

"It's important to practice what we preach. Tobacco kills, and as a public health agency we must do our part to stop it," said Mary Selecky, Secretary of Health. "Going tobacco-free will help protect the health of our employees and everyone who comes here to visit or do business."

The department informed the public and employees of the pending change last November on the eve of the Great American Smokeout. Since the announcement the agency has hosted tobacco cessation classes for employees and provided information on the many different cessation services available.

Tobacco use causes thousands of deaths in Washington every year, and there's no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, health officials agree.

Department of Health employees and all Washington residents can get free help quitting tobacco by calling the state Tobacco Quit Line at 800-QUIT-NOW, and 877-2NO-FUME in Spanish.

Additional quitting information and resources are available at www.quitline.com and www.BecomeAnEx.org.

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