Smokeout Encourages 'Culture of Consideration'
Event asks students to quit 'cold turkey' a week before Thanksgiving by trading in cigarettes for sandwiches
November 16, 2006 2:37 PM
SF State smokers were encouraged by student and faculty volunteers to snuff out their cigarettes and give up their addiction for the entire 24 hours of Nov.16, as part of the Great American Smokeout, a national event aimed at helping smokers start to quit.
Student Health Services and the Smoking Policy Task Force coordinated the campus Smokeout, in an effort promote good health and compliance with SF State’s no smoking policy.
The event was supposed to consist of a tent in the quad and tables around the entire campus with volunteers giving students information about quitting. But rain confined the Smokeout to the tent in front of Malcolm X Plaza, where students stopped between classes to spin a wheel for prizes and enter in a random drawing for $100 gift certificates to the bookstore.
Ann Pattison, 22, a health education major and president of the Health Education Student Association, shouted out from under the tent to passing students, offering raffle tickets for a $50 gift certificate to Stonestown Galleria, in exchange for their cigarettes.
“If I can help people quit for at least one day, it’s nice,” she said
Under the blue and white tent, volunteers from the Student Health Center, Colleges Against Cancer, the Health Education Student Association and Smoking Policy Task Force, offered raffle tickets and cold turkey sandwiches to smokers who would give up their cigarettes for a day. In addition, they gave students free t-shirts as part of a visibility campaign to promote the campus no-smoking policy.
Across the shirts, a graphic was screened to remind students that they are not allowed to smoke on campus, except in certain spots. They read: “If you can read this, you’re not in a designated smoking area.”
Kai Feder traded in one of his last cigarettes for a raffle ticket and lunch. Fader, 18, a political science major has been smoking for a year, and said the mounting stress of school is making him smoke more.
“I’ve never really tried to seriously to quit,” he said, while munching on a turkey sandwich. “I always feel guilty when I light up another cigarette.”
Sheila McClear, who heads the informal task force, said the key to making the policy work lies in students being aware of it, and in smokers having the good will to smoke in the designated areas scattered around the perimeter of the campus.
“We’re trying to build a campus culture of consideration,” she said, noting that some smokers are polite enough to confine their habit to the designated areas, while others are not.
Albert Angelo, a health educator in the preventive medicine department of Student Health Services and one of the main organizers of the campus Smokeout, does one-on-one addiction counseling for students.
“The biggest hurdle for anyone trying to quit is not having a good enough personal reason,” he said, adding that for many, the overwhelming initial pain of trying to quit is enough to keep them in their addiction.
That struggle is the key to the success or failure of smokers trying to quit, he said, but those that are successful realize the harm they cause themselves through their addiction.
“That’s why people quit. They say, ‘I can’t give up my life anymore.’”
The California chapter of the American Cancer Society held the first Smokeout event in 1976, to encourage California smokers to quit for a day. After its initial success, the society took the Smokeout nationwide in 1977, making the third Thursday of November a national effort to help smokers quit. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout.
She said that in the Bay Area, smoking rates in this age group are going up, and that social smoking is a major cause of rising addiction rates. She added that the Smokeout and the society’s 1-800-No Butts hotline help smokers start to quit.
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