Annual event asks smokers to quit for a day
Even those who hadn’t planned to quit smoking for today’s Great American Smokeout could end up kicking the habit – for the rest of their lives.
Ashley Borman, a health education assistant at Student Health Services, said she has seen it happen. A woman who wasn’t going to participate in the Smokeout gave away her cigarettes on a whim. The woman hasn’t lit up since, Borman said.
“The goal is to have people quit tobacco for just 24 hours for the Great American Smokeout,” Borman said. “Then, with the idea that if you can quit for 24 hours, you can quit for the next 24 hours and then the next 24 hours and continue the process of cessation.”
This year’s Smokeout will occur Thursday on and off campus, said senior Blia Yang, who works with Peer Health Educators and the UW-Eau Claire Student Wellness Advocacy Team. During the day, there will be a booth on the Campus Mall with information and “quit kits,” which Yang said contain tips for smokers, lists of resources on campus and stress-relieving materials.
“It is a day to help people stop smoking and using tobacco,” Yang said. “It’s designed to raise awareness of effective ways to quit smoking. It’s a day for them to start on a path to quitting if they would like to.”
On-campus activities will then join with community-wide events from 4 to 7 p.m.
At the Goat Coffee House, 408 Water St., there will be more information on how to quit smoking, as well as prizes for those who participate.
Quitting smoking could result in health benefits ranging from a reduced risk of having a stroke to a lower rate of lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
While the American Cancer Society is the main national sponsor of the cause, many local groups are recognizing the event in Eau Claire. The participating groups include Student Health Services, Colleges Against Cancer, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Eau Claire County and the UW-Eau Claire Student Wellness Advocacy Team.
Even nonsmokers can benefit from the day, Borman said, explaining people can learn about secondhand smoke and that friends or relatives of smokers can pass along “quit kits” and information to smokers they know. Secondhand smoke kills 35,000 Americans per year through heart disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
Those who want to quit can use these people and resources as support, Borman said. She added that the day allows for all smokers to act as a peer support group, where they can help each other kick the habit. Even if a smoker isn’t ready to quit, the day is about information as much as it is about quitting.
“Maybe the Great American Smokeout isn’t the day that they’re prepared for that,” Borman said. “But at least they have the resources and they know about us on campus and are able to come to us when they’re ready.”
Great American Smokeout
Time: 4 – 7 p.m.
Place: Campus Mall, the Goat Coffee House