Campus News

UK's Annual Tobacco-Free Tailgate set for Nov. 16

Tobacco-Free Ambassador educates students on the hazards of smoking
Tobacco-Free Ambassador educates students on the hazards of smoking

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 13, 2017) —The University of Kentucky became a healthier place to live, work and learn on Nov. 19, 2009, when leaders made the commitment for campus to become 100 percent tobacco-free.

Eight years later, the UK Tobacco-free Campus Committee, Tobacco Free Take Action (TFTA), University Health Service and the Student Health Advisory Council will celebrate UK's success at the Tobacco-Free Tailgate from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Nov. 16 on the Rose Street walkway. Students, faculty and staff are invited to learn more about the hazards of tobacco usage, get information about treatment resources on campus and enjoy food, games, and prizes.

"As tobacco-free ambassadors, we believe compliance is everyone's business," said TFTA Ambassador Hayley Leach. "We work daily at improving compliance with the University's tobacco-free policy and with providing more information on the tobacco treatment options that are available around campus."

The 18-24 year old age group continues to have the highest smoking rate among all adults and there has been an increase in use of emerging tobacco products such as hookah and e-cigarettes. While the majority of UK students don't use tobacco, many who do want to quit.

Working collaboratively, the tobacco treatment specialists, the TFTA ambassadors, along with the faculty of BREATHE (Bridging Research Efforts and Advocacy Toward Healthy Environments), UK's multidisciplinary research, outreach and practice collaborative dedicated to the promotion of lung health and healthy environments, have achieved quantifiable results.

"In general, we have seen a fourfold increase in the utilization of tobacco treatment since the policy was implemented in 2009," said Melinda Ickes, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion. "The numbers continue to remain steady among students, employees, and health care patients. We are very lucky to have such strong tobacco treatment resources on our campus." 

University Health Service reported having 10 students currently enrolled in iQuit, a free tobacco cessation program for students. The program offers cessation counseling and free nicotine replacement gum, patches, and lozenges for full and part-time students.

In the last fiscal year, UK Health and Wellness reported 27 staff and faculty completed the Tobacco Cessation Coaching program. This program consists of eight to 12 coaching sessions over the course of two to three months, based on the client’s needs. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is available at no cost for those participating in the program.

Treatment and coaching are also available through UK HealthCare. "Since January 2017, I’ve seen 30 employees for 72 outpatient consultations. These are in person, by phone and/or email," said Audrey Darville, a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist and assistant professor in the College of Nursing.

UK is one of 1,700 tobacco-free campuses in the country. The use of all tobacco products is prohibited on any property that is owned, operated or occupied by UK within Fayette County, which includes buildings, parking structures and lots, sidewalks, streets and inside vehicles.

Tobacco products are defined as all forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, hookah, smokeless tobacco and electronic smoking devices. Everyone on campus — employees, students, patients, visitors, and vendors — are asked to respect others and adhere to the policy.

Kentucky leads the nation in 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