SmokingWords was established in 2001 as a tobacco education program designed to assess student tobacco habits and determine why students were choosing to smoke in spite of the many health issues associated with tobacco use. The program was launched jointly with Southern University using a Board of Regents Health Excellence grant and has operated since with a number of grants from the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living. LSU SmokingWords separated from Southern University in 2008.
SmokingWords has tracked student tobacco use since 2000. Smoking rates were about 22% in 2002 and climbed steadily to about 30% in 2014. Student use trends, such as the rise in hookah and vaping device use were documented, often before these trends were identified as national issues.
The program continues to be involved in legislative issues (such as increasing the tobacco tax, requiring all public universities to have a tobacco policy in place and current efforts to eliminate smoking in state bars and casinos) and to promote enforcement of LSU's 100% tobacco-free policy for the health and safety of the entire community.