In the spirit of the Great American Smokeout, the University sponsored an event designed to get cigarette smokers to kick the habit for good. The event was held on Tuesday, Nov. 20 in Vivacqua Hall.
The Great American Smokeout is observed nationally on the third Thursday in November, which is Smoking Awareness Month.
However, the campus event was delayed for several days, as event organizers waited for materials from the sponsor of the Smokeout, the American Cancer Society.
“Having it on a different day, it’s like a follow-up to make sure people are quitting,” said Rashidah Hasan, a senior majoring in public health.
Hasan, Katie Holland, also a public health major, and Ahmad Dehyar, a therapeutic recreation major, sat in the Vivacqua Hall lobby for four hours encouraging smokers to quit and non-smokers not to begin.
Among the items being given away at the smokeout were free lollipops marked with the phrase “Have a sucker, don’t be a sucker.” Pamphlets on the dangers of smoking, and stickers featuring slogans such as “I’m Kicking Butts Today,” “I’m Giving Cigarettes the Boot,” and “Let’s Have a Round of Applause … I Quit!” were also handed out.
In addition, there were several visual aids featuring the differences between a healthy lung and the lung of a smoker, as well as a cancerous mouth.
“We’ve gotten a lot of traffic coming through the building,” said Holland. “We’ve had some people come by saying they’ve been smoke-free for 30 years.”
Most of the people who went by the table claimed to be non-smokers or did not say. However, there were several smokers who stopped by and planned to quit soon.
“Heather,” a senior majoring in public health, has been smoking Parliament Lights for seven years. Her friends encouraged her to start smoking, but she plans to quit altogether when she has children.
“It’s like euphoria,” Heather said of smoking cigarettes. “When it’s taken from you, it’s horrible.”
Jackie Casacuberta, a sophomore majoring in therapeutic recreation, is an ex-smoker trying to get her friends to quit as well. “I quit smoking, and three of my roommates smoke too and I’m trying to get them to quit too,” she said.
Casacuberta began smoking when she was only in sixth grade, and said she was influenced by family and friends, but decided to quit last year.
Diane Fountain, a senior majoring in community health, isn’t a smoker but her husband is. He was “probably smoking just as he went in the service, years ago, maybe even in high school,” Fountain said. She said he has cut down recently, but doubts that he actually quit.
When asked what could have influenced him, Fountain said, “It could have been a number of things … servicemen smoke, his family smokes, his parents smoke.”
Throughout the day, the Smokeout organizers tried to make sure that not only current smokers quit, but that non-smokers would not start after knowing the dangers of both first-hand and second-hand smoke.
“We’re all affected by second-hand smoke, [even] all non-smokers,” Hasan said.