Congratulations on your acceptance to the College of Nursing. Whether an undergraduate or graduate nursing student, we are thrilled that you will be joining more than 19 million nurses worldwide as strong advocates for health promotion and disease prevention.
As you accept the challenge of providing care for others, we hope that you will take the time to care for yourself as well. As a nursing profession, we are strong advocates of health promotion and disease prevention and appreciate national efforts, such as our own University of Kentucky tobacco-free campus policy, to make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities. We are also proud that the UK College of Nursing faculty and staff have been on the forefront leading the way in tobacco control research and practice through our Tobacco Policy Research Program and Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy. Although we are concerned about all unhealthy behaviors, we are most concerned about tobacco use and the dramatic upsurge in industry marketing and use of electronic-cigarettes.
As the 2012 Surgeon General's Report Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults illustrates, many lifestyle choices that lead to future health risk, including tobacco use, peak between 21 and 25 years of age. The number of smokers who started after age 18 has recently increased from 600,000 (2002) to 1 million (2010). This means that, ultimately, up to 1 million current college students could die prematurely from tobacco use. For adults, cigarette smoking accounts for one out of five preventable deaths annually in the United States.
For all health care professionals tobacco use is a serious issue. In fact, tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death. Moreover, nurses have the highest rate of smoking among all health care professionals. For example, nursing students smoke at rates that are four times higher than medical students. Many studies support the important difference that nurses can make with helping their patients quit tobacco use. However, nurses who smoke may feel less confident and may be more reluctant to offer these interventions to their patients. UK HealthCare and the College of Nursing are fortunate to have several certified tobacco treatment specialists on our faculty.
During your nursing program of study, you will learn the importance of an evidence-based practice, and currently there is not any evidence to support that electronic-cigarettes are safer than using other tobacco products. Nor are electronic-cigarettes FDA approved to help individuals quit using tobacco. For the sake of your health and your patients’ health, we encourage you to be informed, continue to be or become a non-tobacco user and help others become non-tobacco users.
Have an outstanding nursing program of study and do take care of yourself! If you need help in quitting tobacco use or if any of your student colleagues need help, please go to UK’s student health and/or visit the following resources:
- Visit UK's Tobacco-Free page
- Follow @UKTakeAction on Twitter
- Visit the Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy page
- Follow the KCSP on Facebook and Twitter @kysmokefree
- Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit the Tobacco Free Nurses Page
Best Health and Academic Wishes ALWAYS!
Dean Janie Heath PhD, APRN-BC, FAAN
To meet some of our nursing students and read their stories, click here.