Help URI Kick Butts, nicotine products March 21

Event is part of URI’s Tobacco-Free Initiative

KINGSTON, R.I., March 19, 2018 — Do you want to quit smoking, break free of the nicotine cravings that accompany e-smoking devices or end a chewing tobacco habit?

Then join the University of Rhode Island’s Tobacco-Free Committee for the nationwide Kick Butts Day Wednesday, March 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Memorial Union.

“This is going to be an educational and fun day that will help the University become healthier and more beautiful,” said Ellen Reynolds, director of URI Health Services and co-chair of URI’s Tobacco-Free Initiative.

Nicole Rescigno, a senior health studies major from Glen Cove, N.Y, who is an intern at Health Services and a member of the committee, said even those who are not trying to quit smoking or a nicotine habit should attend.

“Everyone has a family member or friend who smokes, vapes or uses JUULS,” she said. “We’ll have great information they can pass along to their friends and family. We’ll also talk about how litter from smoking and e-devices detracts from our beautiful campus. It’s beyond cigarette butts. Now you can find JUUL devices on the ground.”

Reynolds, who chairs the URI committee with Deb Riebe, associate dean of the College of Health Sciences, said those who attend Kick Butts Day can play trivia games and possibly win prizes as part of event activities.            “We’ll also be offering Quit Kits, and other smoking cessation information to help people quit,” Reynolds said.

First held in 1996, Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers young people to fight the tobacco industry. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which runs the program, said it expects more than 1,000 events in schools and communities across the United States and around the world. The event goals are:

  • Raise community awareness of the problem of tobacco use;
  • Encourage youth to reject the tobacco industry’s deceptive marketing and stay tobacco-free; and
  • Urge elected officials to take action to protect kids from tobacco.

Studies show that many students start smoking or using nicotine devices when they begin college.

A survey conducted last semester by URI’s Tobacco-Free Committee found that about one-third of respondents had used a tobacco product in the last 30 days (cigarette, electronic cigarette, snuff, cigar, cigarillo, pipe, vape, JUUL or hookah). Of that group, 26 percent said they picked up their habit after arriving at URI.

Work toward a tobacco-free campus began in September after the University was awarded a $20,000 grant from the American Cancer Society’s Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative, which is funded by the CVS Health Foundation. The goal of the initiative is to help create the first tobacco-free generation by accelerating and expanding the number of campuses across the country that prohibit smoking and tobacco use.

URI’s Tobacco-Free Committee, which has representation from all University sectors, began meeting last fall. It is in the process of finalizing a Tobacco-Free Campus Policy, which will address tobacco cessation assistance, exceptions to the policy and enforcement.

The Tobacco-Free initiative will lead to a prohibition of cigarettes, cigars, electronic devices and all smokeless tobacco products at URI. The University has joined more than 1,700 schools to become tobacco free.

In addition, the College of Pharmacy is joining efforts to help members of the community quit. It seeks participants through May 2019 for a smoking cessation study. The email for the study is

Those interested in additional health discussions on Wednesday may also attend “Practical Tips for Healthy Living,” presented by URI Healthy Campus, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Hardge Forum of the Multicultural Center on the Kingston Campus.

The topics are:

  • State of Student Health by Fortunato Procopio, staff physician at URI Health Services, 1 to 1:45 p.m.
  • Sitting is the New Smoking, by Associate Professor of Kinesiology Mary Greaney, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Christie-Ward Ritacco and Riebe, 2 to 2:45 p.m.
  • Relieving Stress by Assistant Professor of Psychology Nicole Weiss, 3 to 3:45 p.m.

The program is free and open to the public.