Campus News

UK Celebrates 11 Years as a Tobacco-Free Community

tobacco-free UK logo

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 19, 2020) ­– Celebrating its 11th year of continuing to make the University of Kentucky a healthier place to work, learn and live, the UK Tobacco-free Campus Committee, along with University Health Services and other members of the campus community, continues its success of communicating and helping spread awareness of the policy on campus and the health effects related to utilizing tobacco products.

The University’s commitment to maintaining a healthy campus is even more pivotal during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources that are provided to help quit, such as treatment and coaching through UK HealthCare and Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), are giving many the opportunity to remain safe and healthy during this pandemic. UK Healthcare has ramped up its efforts during the COVID-19 virus to allow for free nicotine replacement therapies to encourage many to help them quit.

Not only is UK celebrating 11 years as a Tobacco-Free Campus, along with 1,700 other universities across the country, but this Thursday also marks the Great American Smokeout. This annual event helps highlight that quitting starts with the first day being tobacco-free and getting the help and resources needed to work on it one day at a time. Although an in-person event to celebrate together isn’t possible this year, the Committee wants to remind everyone of this great event and to continue to educate the campus about the opportunities to help people quit.

The 18-24 year age group continues to remain the highest rate of smoking among all adults, with the continuing emergence of vaping products. Continuing to educate young adults about the health concerns related to any form of tobacco use, continues to be the forefront of the committee. Utilizing our Tobacco-Free Take Action ambassadors and iQuit, a free tobacco cessation program for students, the committee continues to push emerging tobacco product education and the dangers that exist with them.

“Tobacco-free ambassadors work daily to improve compliance surrounding the tobacco-free policy at the University of Kentucky,” said TFTA! Ambassador, Katie Meyr. “We believe that by improving education about available resources can only contribute to a healthier UK community." Ambassadors work in pairs to promote the tobacco-free resources available on campus and educate anyone at UK about the policy.

The results are continuing to show many that are interested in taking the next step to quitting, even through the stressors of the pandemic that can increase tobacco use. Since the implementation of the policy in 2009, we are continuing to see a fourfold increase in those taking that next step to quitting.

Let’s celebrate this week those that have successfully quit, those that are continuing to get treatment and help, and continue to encourage and remind members of our community that they are not alone when it comes to taking that next step to quitting.

Kentucky leads the nation in the incidence of lung cancer and mortality from the disease and reports some of the highest rates of tobacco use across the nation. UK recognizes the importance of the tobacco-free campus policy and offers many options to help employees, students and sponsored dependents quit using tobacco. For more information on the policy or quitting, go to http://www.uky.edu/TobaccoFree/

Quitting tobacco remains the single most important thing you can do for your health in your lifetime. With smoking linked to increased risk from coronavirus, there is no better time to quit and the University offers several resources (often free!) to help.  Visit https://www.uky.edu/TobaccoFree/help-you-quit

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.