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Tobacco free

We’re tobacco-free. Here’s why.

At UK HealthCare, we are committed to improving the health and well-being of all Kentuckians. As part of that mission, all healthcare sites and UK campus locations – inside and outside as well as parking areas – prohibit the use of tobacco products (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, snuff, snus, water pipes, pipes, etc.).

Why is UK HealthCare tobacco-free?

  • Simply put, tobacco use takes a significant toll on a person’s overall health. It increases risk for heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, and can cause damage to nearly every organ in the body.
  • Tobacco smoke can make breathing harder for others with asthma or other lung problems.
  • Quitting tobacco has a wide array of health benefits – from a healthier heart and lungs to whiter teeth and fewer wrinkles.
  • Seeing others use tobacco can trigger strong urges in those who are trying to quit.

Be a quitter!

We’re here to help. In fact, many of our patients, visitors and employees have stopped or are trying to stop using tobacco.

You can purchase nicotine replacement gum at the Kentucky Clinic Pharmacy, UK Chandler Hospital Gift Shop and University Health Pharmacy at a very low cost. Tobacco-cessation coaching is also available to our employees at no cost.

For more information to help you or someone you know quit, check out our tips for conquering a tobacco addiction.

Thank you for keeping UK tobacco-free.


Next steps:

Get Fit and Quit

UK partnership helps women in recovery replace cigarettes with sweat

While managing her sobriety, returning to the workforce and enduring a grueling legal process to reunite with her children, Missy couldn’t imagine a day without cigarettes.

After finishing a six-year prison sentence in January, she was determined to get her life back in order. In the spring, she completed a substance abuse rehabilitation program at the Chrysalis House, a residential recovery center for women in Lexington. She got a job and started working through the legal process necessary to regain custody of her children. Smoking – a habit she picked up after prison – helped her cope with her emotions and the stress of court dates and legal battles.

“Quitting wasn’t a top priority because I was so stressed out with stuff going on with my kids,” Missy said. “I would push it to the back of my mind, like, ‘I am not even going to think about quitting smoking, this is calming me down.’”

Then she learned she was pregnant, and she set a quit date.

“It kind of seemed like it was impossible because there is so much going on,” she said. “But me finding out I was pregnant –that pushed me over the edge.”

During her stay at the Chrysalis House earlier this year, Missy signed up for the Get Fit and Quit Program (GFAQ), a community-based research partnership organized by health advocates at the UK College of Nursing, the Chrysalis House and the YMCA of Central Kentucky.

The program, which started in March, includes group tobacco treatment and physical activity sessions. About 14 Chrysalis House clients have enrolled and consistently participated. Through the program, women in recovery at the Chrysalis House are eligible to receive a free family YMCA membership, a free fitness-tracking device and other family health benefits.

Exposing women to physical activity

Enrolled Chrysalis House clients participate in 10 hour-and-a-half Get Fit and Quit sessions with 45 minutes of each session dedicated to group tobacco cessation content followed by 45 minutes of physical activity at the Northside YMCA. UK nurse interventionists Janine Barnett and Tisha Ducas facilitate the sessions.

The program exposes women and families to a range of physical activity, from cardiovascular group workouts like Zumba, to cycling, to yoga, to weight lifting as well as a day to choose a fitness activity on their own. Barnett said many women are learning to replace tobacco use with healthier activities for managing stress.

“The majority of our session content focuses on identifying smoking triggers and stress and discovering new ways to manage them,” Barnett said. “We hope that through exercise, the women will feel the benefits of endorphin release, they will begin to feel physically and mentally better, and then they will begin to naturally incorporate this healthy behavior into their everyday routine.”

Fighting back against stress

Stress is a well-known predictor of smoking. Beginning in 2015, Amanda Fallin-Bennett, a tobacco control researcher in the UK College of Nursing and a primary investigator on the GFAQ program, partnered with the Chrysalis House to conduct pilot research on the barriers to tobacco treatment and cessation specifically for women in addiction rehabilitation programs.

Based on results of individual interviews and focus groups with Chrysalis House residents and staff, GFAQ was designed for a group of women reporting high levels of stress. The program takes an integrative approach that includes a supportive peer network, organized group exercise classes, and access to tobacco treatment specialists and counseling.

The researchers then formed partnerships with staff at the Chrysalis House, as well as officials from the YMCA of Central Kentucky and the Kentucky Quit Line, which provides free nicotine replacement for women enrolled in GFAQ.

Tonya Jernigan, clinical director of the Chrysalis House, said the collaboration complements her organization’s holistic approach to recovery that addresses the physical, spiritual and mental state of addiction. The clients are provided with multiple tools and resources to succeed on their path to health and substance-free living. They also model healthy behaviors by seeing other families in the community enjoying the benefits of a YMCA membership.

“It’s planting a seed,” Jernigan said. “Part of that recovery process is being able to build a natural support system and being able to see what healthy families look like.”

Swapping smoking for sweat

Susan Sanders, a clinical nurse at the Chrysalis House, said the program provides a safe, non-judgmental and family-friendly outlet for clients to participate in physical activity. Importantly, Chrysalis House clients participating in the program are engaged in the community, which helps to normalize exercise and decrease access barriers to healthy activities.

“Just to feel like there’s folks at UK and folks at the Y who are willing to reach out to them — who care about them enough to put this program together— that’s inspiring to them as individuals,” Sanders said.

The clients, most importantly, are learning to swap out smoking for physical activity as a response to stress. In addition, their families are getting plugged into their local community and experiencing the joy of exercise.

“And I am in the best shape of my life thanks to this program,” said one participant, whose identity is protected. “I have been getting compliments almost daily, and the YMCA has been my and the kids’ second home. I feel this program will change lives and its changed mine for the better.”

Missy admits she’s never been enthusiastic about working out in the past, but she’s learned to appreciate exercise and enjoys swimming. She remains committed to the program because she needs encouragement and accountability to make her quit goal. When she missed her quit date about a month ago, participating in the class and receiving encouragement from the instructors motivated her to try again.

“I really started enjoying the program when I had a breakdown when I didn’t make my quit date,” she said. “Janine and the nurses have been very supportive and caring, and they try to understand. They are swift in their thinking – they know what to say.”

*Missy’s name was changed to ensure client confidentiality.


Next steps:

smoking heart

When you use tobacco, your heart takes a beating

We’ve all heard the statistics – smoking and tobacco use greatly increase your risk of heart disease. But what, exactly, does tobacco do to your heart?

How tobacco hurts your heart

  • Nicotine, the addictive component in tobacco, speeds up the pulse rate and raises blood pressure making the heart work harder.
  • Smoking decreases HDL (good) cholesterol, increases triglyceride levels and damages the lining in blood vessels.
  • Tobacco smoke contains high levels of carbon monoxide, depriving the heart and other vital organs of the oxygen it needs.
  • Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes because it increases the risk of high blood pressure leading to heart disease and stroke.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke also has a negative effect on cardiovascular health. Nonsmokers’ bodies tend to react more dramatically to tobacco exposure than do smokers’ bodies.

Why quitting is worth it

Quitting has benefits you’ll start to notice right away. For example:

  • Within 24 hours after your last cigarette or tobacco use, blood pressure and pulse rate drop to normal and heart attack risk starts to drop.
  • Within a few days or weeks, exercise endurance and heart functioning improve, and HDL (good) cholesterol increases.
  • Within a year, the risk for most cardiovascular diseases will be cut in half.

Quitting is tough

We know that quitting is easier said than done, and many ex-smokers try three or more times to quit before they succeed. The good news is there are plenty of resources out there to help you quit. Ask your doctor to suggest the best quitting aid for you and check out our tips for finally conquering your smoking addiction.


Next steps:

stroke

6 ways to prevent a stroke

When it comes to preventing a stroke, simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference.

Strokes occur when blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the brain burst or are blocked by a clot. When that happens, brain cells begin to die, affecting a person’s memory and ability to control muscles.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and in Kentucky, but there’s good news: Nearly 80 percent of all strokes are preventable.

In celebration of American Stroke Month, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to live a healthier lifestyle and better your chances of avoiding a stroke.

1. Get moving.

Regular physical activity will help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, two of the biggest risk factors for stroke. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week. Something as simple as a brisk walk or bike ride with a friend will work wonders for your overall health.

2. Stop smoking.

Smokers are twice as likely to experience a stroke as nonsmokers. That’s because smoking thickens blood and increases the likelihood of clots. If you’re struggling to quit smoking, ask your doctor for help. And check out our blog with tips and resources that can help you or someone you know start on the path toward success.

3. Eat your vegetables.

And beans, whole grains and nuts, too – all of which are staples of a healthy diet. Improving your diet will help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight. Check out our guide for kick-starting a healthy diet.

4. Drink less.

Alcohol can increase blood pressure and the risk of stroke. Moderation is the key: For men, no more than two drinks a day, and for women, no more than one.

5. Learn about Afib.

Atrial fibrillation, also known as Afib, is a type of irregular heartbeat. If left untreated, Afib can cause blood clots in the heart that can move to the brain and cause a stroke. Talk to your doctor about Afib if you experience symptoms such as heart palpitations or shortness of breath. Learn more about the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute’s Heart Rhythm Program and listen to a podcast with our Afib specialist, Dr. Ted Wright.

6. Understand the things you can’t control.

Although improving your diet, ramping up your activity and living a healthy lifestyle can all decrease your risk for stroke, there are some risk factors you cannot control. Things like age, gender and race all play a role in stroke risk, and even though you can’t change those factors, it’s important to understand if you’re more susceptible.

Click the icon below to see our Stroke Quick Facts inforgraphic.

Stroke quick facts infographic from UK HealthCare


Next steps:

  • At the UK Comprehensive Stroke Center, we offer treatment, prevention and rehabilitation services for stroke patients. Learn more about our program.
  • Dr. Gretchen Wells, director of UK’s Women’s Heart Health Program, writes about why knowing your family health history can help you understand your own risk of disease. Read her blog.

 

New FDA rules spotlight e-cigarette safety claims

Think e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to tobacco? You may want to think again.

Just last week the FDA announced new rules for e-cigarettes, which had been unregulated since they first became available in this country in 2007.

The new rules, which go into effect in August, treat e-cigarettes very much like the real thing. That’s because the two have a lot in common.

Unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigs do not burn. They use a battery to heat a cartridge containing nicotine and other chemicals, including flavorings, until those chemicals become a vapor that can be inhaled. The vapor from an e-cigarette does not contain the toxins and tar that tobacco smoke contains, but it does contain nicotine, one of the most addictive known substances.

And, at least until now, there was no way to know what other harmful substances the vapor contained. These could include formaldehyde, which is known to cause cancer, and the flavorings may themselves contain harmful toxins.

One of the biggest fears with e-cigarettes is that their flavorings will attract non-smokers, particularly teenagers, and lead to a lifelong nicotine addiction. Ask any smoker who’s tried repeatedly to quit and they will tell you they wish they’d never started smoking in the first place.

Another danger is nicotine poisoning in young children, who might be attracted to the e-cig flavorings.

The new rules prohibit misleading advertising, require health warnings on e-cigarette packaging and forbid sales to anyone under age 18.

Ellen Hahn, a professor at the UK College of Nursing and co-chair of the UK Tobacco-free Task Force, was quoted in a USA Today story about the regulations, saying the new rule is a good first step toward controlling e-cigarettes. “From a health perspective, to reduce the social acceptance of them is good because frankly, it’s the Wild, Wild West out there,” she said. “Vape stores are everywhere.”

Some fans of e-cigarettes say they can help smokers quit tobacco, but there’s not enough research at this point to know whether that is true.

The bottom line is it’s better not to smoke at all. If you’re a smoker trying to quit, be sure to seek out support to help you along the way. (See our list of resources below.) And if you’re a non-smoker, remember, that first e-cigarette could lead to a lifetime of trying to quit.

Next steps:

Tools and resources to help you stop smoking.

Take action to stop smoking

If you’re a smoker, you probably already know it’s not a healthy habit. The benefits of not smoking are vast, but the bottom line is this: if you stop smoking now, you’ll have a better quality of life and more years to live it.

Today is Kick Butts Day, an initiative all about supporting people in their efforts to quit smoking and encouraging others on their path to a tobacco-free lifestyle.

We know that quitting smoking isn’t easy, but we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of tips and resources that can help you or someone you know start on the path toward success. Check them out and pass them along to family and friends.

    • Learn about smoking-cessation aids. Quitting cold turkey isn’t the best option for everyone, and aids like nicotine patches, nicotine gum and medicines for withdrawal symptoms can help make quitting easier. Find about more about tools for helping you kick your habit.
    • Make it through the hardest part. It’s often said that if you can make it through your first week of not smoking, when withdrawal symptoms are at their worst, you’ll be on your way to success. From establishing new morning routines and daily habits to exercising more, little lifestyle changes can help you get through the toughest part of your journey. Here are a few other tips to making it through your first days and weeks as a nonsmoker.
    • Think about your weight. It’s not uncommon to experience weight gain after you stop smoking. Exercising regularly, eating fewer fatty foods and drinking plenty of water can help you maintain a healthy weight moving forward. Check out more suggestions for staying healthy after you quit smoking.
    • A relapse isn’t the end of the world. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a cigarette after quitting. Relapse is a common occurrence and nothing to be ashamed of. Understanding why you chose to smoke is often the key to preventing it from happening again. Here are some additional tips for how to quit smoking after a relapse.
    • You’ll feel better if you quit. From a healthier heart and lungs to whiter teeth and fewer wrinkles, you’ll reap major health benefits when you stop smoking. Check out our infographic for more reasons why kicking your habit is the way to go.


Next steps:

E-cigarettes present a danger to adolescent smokers

Understanding the dangers of e-cigarettes

In the 1970s, Congress banned tobacco ads to protect our impressionable youth from perceiving smoking as socially desirable.

Now, for the first time in decades, advertisements portraying the recreational use of tobacco products are reappearing in popular media. Advertisements present e-cigarettes and vaporizers as safer alternatives to conventional cigarettes. Tobacco control advocates fear this type of exposure will unravel decades of progress in America by renormalizing smoking.

Researchers know little about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes. We do know nicotine, a highly addictive substance, has harmful effects on the adolescent brain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report more young people are trying e-cigarettes, and those who try e-cigarettes are twice as likely to express intent to smoke conventional cigarettes. About three out of four teen smokers will continue to smoke into adulthood.

It’s imperative that parents, mentors, teachers and youth are not misled about dangers of e-cigarettes through advertising.

No regulatory standards

The e-cigarette is classified in the U.S. as a tobacco product, not a tobacco cessation therapy. These devices came on the market in 2007 without any FDA testing and escaped many of the safety controls that protect consumers from potential harm.

FDA investigations are finding inconsistencies with the chemical and nicotine content reported on the product’s label and what is actually in the e-juice. Both devices and e-juice can be customized. Currently, no government standards exist for the production process or ingredients used in e-cigarettes or e-juice.

Exposure to highly addictive nicotine

Tobacco control advocates are especially concerned about the consequences of exposing teens to any amount of nicotine, which is highly addictive. Most people start using tobacco products before age 18. The younger a person is exposed to nicotine, the harder it is to quit later in life. Nicotine exposure can cause lasting harm to the brain and promote sustained use.

In addition to nicotine, e-cigarette users are exposed to 40 to 60 other chemicals found in e-juice. To date, no scientific evidence can fully explain the effects of those chemicals on the body when they are heated and inhaled.

Use for illegal substances

Youth are able to modify e-cigarettes for the consumption of illegal drugs. The devices can mask an illegal substance and facilitate smoking at school.

E-cigarettes are not innocuous devices. The unanswered questions regarding the safety of these devices and the detriments of exposing youth to nicotine aren’t worth the risk of trying them.

Audrey Darville

Audrey Darville

 

 

Audrey Darville is a tobacco treatment specialist at the University of Kentucky and an assistant professor in the UK College of Nursing.