About Us

Tobacco use is a major risk factor for multiple cancers, heart disease, stroke and lung disease. Approximately 28,000 adults die of a smoking-attributable illness annually in Texas, which is more than the total deaths from AIDS, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, car accidents, fire and murder.

In 2015, to address this challenge statewide, Dr. David Lakey of The University of Texas System (UT System) and Dr. Ernest Hawk, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson), along with the EndTobacco® Program team at MD Anderson and the Office of Health Affairs at UT System, created the Eliminate Tobacco Use Initiative. The aim of the initiative was to first tackle tobacco use among UT institutions to more effectively lead larger statewide and national tobacco control efforts.

A collaborative consisting of all 14 UT academic and health institutions was formed to implement this initiative. Since its inception, it has worked closely with key tobacco control partners, including the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Truth Initiative, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, and Smoke Free Texas. Currently, there are more than 207,912 staff, students and dependents covered under the UT System’s Select Medical plan who are influenced by the Eliminate Tobacco Use Initiative.


Letter from Dr. David Lakey & Dr. Ernest Hawk

Dear Colleagues,

The Eliminate Tobacco Use initiative grew out of a desire to lead and influence statewide and national tobacco control efforts. The purpose of this website is to describe the accomplishments and impact of the initiative, to highlight innovative strategies that can be shared among institutions of higher education to accelerate tobacco control efforts state-wide and nationally, and to provide resources to aid in those efforts.

The human suffering and financial costs due to the continued use of tobacco are undeniable. Yet, according to the latest statistics, 4.69 million Texas residents continue to smoke or use other forms of tobacco.

We applaud all the dedicated professionals in Texas and beyond who are working together with national, state and community partners to eliminate tobacco use. Thank you for fostering respectful, healthy and tobacco-free environments, and for your commitment to improving the health and well-being of all.

 
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David Lakey, MD

Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, The University of Texas System

 
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Ernest Hawk, MD, MPH

Vice President, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Our Team

 

Program Leaders

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Jennifer Cofer, MPH, CHES
Director, EndTobacco Program 
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
JCofer@mdanderson.org

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Alex Hurst, MHA
Program Manager, EndTobacco Program
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
anhurst@mdanderson.org

 

Collaborators

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Daniel Oppenheimer, MFA
Senior Lead for Population Health Communications
The University of Texas System
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

doppenheimer@utsystem.edu

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Michael Mackert, PhD 
Director, Center for Health Communication
Moody College of Communication | Dell Medical School
The University of Texas at Austin
 
mackert@utexas.edu

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Mohamad “Em” Karmifar, MFA
Web Designer
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of The University of Texas System

mkarimifar@utsystem.edu

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Jessica Hughes Wagner, MPH, MCHES
Assistant Director, Center for Health Communication
Moody College of Communication | Dell Medical School
The University of Texas at Austin 

jessica.wagner@austin.utexas.edu

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Nagla Elerian, MS
Director of Population Health Strategic Initiatives
The University of Texas System
nelerian@utsystem.edu

Dasha Rakasovic
Senior Graphic Designer, Center for Health Communication
Moody College of Communication | Dell Medical School
The University of Texas at Austin 

dasha.rakasovic@austin.utexas.edu