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University of Kentucky Campus Goes Tobacco-Free Today

November 19, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky campus in Lexington will become completely tobacco-free today, coinciding with the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout, held annually on the third Thursday in November. No smoke. No snuff. No chew. The tobacco-free policy will prohibit the use of all tobacco products on the grounds and parking areas of the campus in Lexington. The ban means no more cigarette breaks outside the classroom door for students, faculty, staff, visitors or people making deliveries.

Dr. Ellen Hahn, a professor of nursing and director of the Tobacco Policy Research Program at U.K., says the ban signifies a cultural change for the entire state.

"It is a bold, courageous move by our Board of Trustees. But it is the right thing to do in the heart of tobacco country: We are making a strong statement that we believe in the health of our students, our faculty, and our staff."

She says one-fourth of Kentuckians smoke. The national average is 18 percent.

Hahn adds that university leaders know that quitting smoking is tough and that most smokers have to try several times before quitting tobacco products. That's why a variety of effective resources will be available to help people in the university community quit.

"The university has put their money where their mouth is, and we are providing nicotine replacement products for free for all students, employees and sponsored dependents, if they sign up for an approved tobacco dependence treatment program."

Hahn notes that other universities in Kentucky and elsewhere have campus-wide smoking bans, too. Bellarmine University in Louisville and the University of Louisville will enact a smoke-free policy next year.

"We're among over 300 campuses around the country that are already doing this, so we may not be the first in the country, but we certainly are leading the state in that direction."

The American Cancer Society is marking the 34th year for the Great American Smokeout, which encourages smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit smoking.

Bill Goodman, Public News Service - KY