Friday, November 19, 2010

Goal was to snuff out smokes, if only for a day

Taya Flores • Journal & Courier • November 19, 2010

Late Thursday morning, Nina Klepczarek stopped at an information table while walking through the halls of Stewart Center.

"I'm concerned about my brother, who smokes a lot," the 22-year-old senior at Purdue University said.

Klepczarek received some advice on how to help her brother quit smoking from one of the student representatives at the table.

"I think the biggest thing is he has to be ready to quit," said Tiffany Rumschlag, a student from Purdue's Academy of Student Pharmacists. "It's not something you can do for him."

Two Purdue student groups talked to interested passersby Thursday about smoking cessation or how to discuss the matter with family members and loved ones who smoke. The students were participating in the 35th annual Great American Smokeout, an event created by the American Cancer Society to encourage smokers to quit the habit for a day or make a plan to quit in the future.

"The tradition is for people to pledge to go one day without tobacco," said Stephanie Orstad, the alcohol, tobacco and other drugs education coordinator for the Purdue Student Wellness Office. "Depending on the person, they may be willing to go another day."

The effort was organized by members of Purdue's Academy of Student Pharmacists, Purdue's Student Wellness Office and the Tobacco Free Partnership of Tippecanoe County.

Students from Colleges Against Cancer, a campus organization affiliated with the American Cancer Society, were also distributing smoking cessation materials at Stewart Center and had petitions for people to sign for a statewide smoking ban.

"Our goal is to eliminate cancer on campus," said Rachael Bazzelle, a senior at Purdue. "We think this is a great preventative measure. We just want to educate campus on how to protect themselves and how to stay healthy."

Orstad said if Purdue students were willing to forgo using tobacco for the day, they would be given a free X-pack and counseling service at no charge. The X-pack is a cigarette box filled with distraction tools, such as chewing gum and toothpicks.

Although, the student volunteers talked to about 55 people between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the majority of them were non-smokers. The student volunteers did not give out any X-packs, Orstad said.

Bazzelle said most of the people they talked to that morning were not smokers but people interested in helping a friend or family member quit smoking.

Rumschlag agreed and said she had three smokers come by in about a two-hour period. "I think it's something they don't want to talk about because they don't want to quit or it's something they are ashamed of," she said.

Many people were outside smoking at the opposite end of the building in the corridor between Stewart Center and the Purdue Memorial Union.

Orstad said the volunteers did not approach the smokers outside, because "We did not want to target people who may not have been ready," she said.

Most of those smokers were not aware of the Great American Smokeout campaign.

Scott Lowe, who works at Purdue, said he has been trying to quit smoking. "The only reason I still smoke is because I'm addicted, I can tell," the 19-year-old said. "It tastes bad, it smells bad and it's bad for you."

He said smoking cessation campaigns in general are beneficial. "It's a good idea to try to get people to stop smoking," he said.

Jordan Young, a junior at Purdue, said he might quit eventually.

"I was actually thinking about quitting this winter because it's cold out," he said. "But it probably won't happen, to be honest. All my friends smoke and cigarettes are always around me."

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