Members of the Cal Poly club Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) set up a booth in front of Campus Market on Thursday to warn people about the dangers of tobacco and to urge them to quit using.
Housing assignment coordinator for housing administration Tracy Kashima said she walked up to the kissing booth put on by CAC, but she wasn’t looking for a kiss. She was looking to see if they had anything to help with quitting smoking, something she did less than a month ago.
The members handed her a plastic bag. Its contents were toothpicks, straws, suckers, gum, rubber bands and a card specifying what she can buy with the money she’ll save by quitting.
Kashima said she spoke with CAC president Paula Dreifuerst about the harms of smoking and why it’s important for her to quit.
“This is what we’re trying do,” Dreifuerst said. “It’s hard to get people to stop and talk. We’re not here to judge people, but we do want to get them to stop smoking.”
Dreifuerst and other members of CAC waited at the kissing booth for people to approach them and talk about being smoke free.
The event was a part of the American Cancer Society’s 35th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout, its campaign to encourage people to quit smoking and start living healthier lives.
They also spoke to people about the dangerous effects of chewing tobacco, which happens to be popular at Cal Poly, journalism senior and member of CAC Adriene Henderson said.
So how is a bag of knick-knacks going to help someone quit smoking? It gets them to stop the habit, Kashima said.
“The patch recommended that I get the rubber band to play with or the straw to chew on,” Kashima said. “Those things are designed to break the habit. You’re quitting two things. You’re addicted to nicotine and you have a habit, so you have to quit both.”
Quitting will also help prevent lung disease, heart attacks, strokes and will add years to a person’s life, according to the American Cancer Society.
This is something Dreifuerst said she was hoping to share with smokers who stopped at the booth.
“Once someone has gone about a month without smoking, their lungs are already beginning to go back to normal,” Dreifuerst said.
Henderson said she wants to educate people about why smoking can be harmful to their health without coming across as judgmental. She said she has never smoked a cigarette and doesn’t see the point in starting.
“I’ve never smoked, so I guess I can’t really speak about the benefits that smoking has,” Henderson said. “But we all know about smoking’s harms and sometimes people just need a reminder.”
The first harm the American Cancer Society states on its list of reasons for quitting is cancer.
“Everyone knows someone that has been affected by cancer, whether you’ve lost someone close to you or a friend has, everyone has known someone with cancer,” Henderson said.
With this in mind, refraining from picking up the habit is easy, Henderson said.
As part of the event, several headstones scattered across Dexter Lawn serve as a morbid reminder of reasons to refrain from smoking. On them were the names of celebrities who lost their lives to various forms of cancer caused by tobacco. Among the names were Walt Disney, Sammy Davis Jr., Sigmund Freud and Babe Ruth.
“We know people know smoking’s bad, we just want to get the information out there and be people’s support system if they need it,” Henderson said.
Kashima said the most important part of quitting is having a good support system. She said when she posted on her Facebook that she had quit, the response from friends and family was overwhelming.
“I really enjoyed smoking,” Kashima said. “I miss it, but I’m not doing it. I’m getting older and I would like to live many more years.”