Despite significant declines in tobacco use in Texas over the last several decades, it continues to claim the lives of 28,000 Texans every year. And it costs the state $8.85 billion annually in direct medical costs. The human suffering and financial costs due to the continued use of tobacco are undeniable. Yet, according to the latest statistics, 4.76 million Texas residents continue to smoke or use other forms of tobacco. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that tobacco use is a relapsing-remitting condition that most often requires medical intervention to address.
Tobacco use is much more than an undesirable habit or unhealthy behavior. It is a disease that requires dedicated efforts across a range of domains – policy, education and clinical service delivery – to ensure successful prevention and treatment, much like any other chronic condition.
We are pleased to present the first impact report of the UT System Eliminate Tobacco Use Initiative. This initiative grew out of a desire to lead and influence state-wide and national tobacco control efforts by example. Consequently, we turned our attentions inward to first address our own attitudes and efforts towards tobacco control before attempting to affect change on a larger scale.
The purpose of this report is to describe the accomplishments and impact of the UT System Eliminate Tobacco Use Initiative in its first year of operation. We provide details of the actions that support each institution’s tobacco free policies, educational activities and cessation services. We also highlight innovative strategies that can be shared among UT institutions to accelerate tobacco control efforts system-wide.
We applaud the numerous dedicated professionals within the UT System who are working together with our national, state and community partners to eliminate tobacco use. Our hope is that the progress we document in this report will highlight the ability of a large university system to come together with tobacco control partners to improve its tobacco control actions, and to inspire other colleges and universities to do the same in order to truly reduce the burden of tobacco at all levels.
Thank you for fostering respectful, healthy, and smoke-free environments, and for your commitment to improve the health and well-being of all.
David Lakey, MD
Chief Medical Officer, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
Ernest Hawk, MD, MPH
Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center