Information booths were set up at the Polytechnic, Tempe and Downtown campuses as student organizations and the Maricopa County Department of Public Health hosted Kick Butts day Wednesday to inform students about the devastating effects of tobacco products and resources for quitting available at ASU.
Jo Ann Brown, a prevention specialist for Maricopa County Department of Public Health, ran a table equipped with devices to read carbon monoxide levels in the lungs, pamphlets and trinkets such as pens and insulated tote bags with information about the advocacy group IGNITE on them.
Most people know how bad smoking is for them, but some students may not realize how bad it is. Brown said that some smokers feel trapped by their addiction, and the purpose of Kick Butts Day is to help people understand the gravity of their decision to smoke.
“It’s harmful to your health, and a lot of people are dying of smoking-related diseases every day,” Brown said. “About 1,500 a day and 500,000 a year, so it’s really harmful. It’s important for us because we have our IGNITE group here on campus and they’re actually advocating for people to stop smoking on campus. We would just like to bring awareness to everybody about the harmful effects of tobacco.”
Ignite is a campus club to inform students about negative effects tobacco has on the body. Students who participate in the club can log community service hours while they are working to enlighten their fellow students about the health concerns of tobacco smoking, Brown said.
Students may indulge in a hookah pipe instead of cigarettes, thinking that because it is molasses-based and water vapors, it is less harmful. The shocking reality is every 15 minutes of smoking the hookah is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes, Brown said.
There are even accounts of students contracting herpes, tuberculosis or hepatitis from sharing mouthpieces while smoking hookah, she added.
Kinesiology junior Sam Weinstein, a hookah smoker, stopped by the Kick Butts tables and was surprised to learn just how detrimental a night of smoking hookah can be. He said people seem to think hookah is a safer tobacco product than cigarettes.
“I’ve heard stuff like that before, but I’ve never heard the 200 cigarette thing, so that was a little bit shocking,” he said. “I feel like there’s a difference in a lot of people’s mindset for hookah versus cigarettes because hookah always seems like, way less worse.”
Health sciences pre-professional junior Kayla Valdez helped run a Downtown Campus Awareness table for Kick Butts Day. She said the information provided could help encourage students to quit.
“I think it will definitely bring knowledge on the kinds of chemicals that are in cigarettes and the types of second-hand smoke and stuff that a lot of people don’t think about,” she said.
Daniela Mendez, an English freshman and a member of DPC Aware, said the day’s mission was not necessarily to target smokers and pressure them to quit but to educate students about the how harmful tobacco is to the body.
“Our mission is to just spread awareness about tobacco use and its effects,” she said.
For those interested in quitting, ASU offers several options for kicking the habit, including referrals to health services like the ASHLine, which is a free organization designed to get future ex-smokers the help they need. If a student is interested in calling the ASHLine, they will have access to free over-the-phone smoking cessation coaching sessions and access to smoking cessation aides like nicotine patches or gum.
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