by Andreas Chenvainu
In partnership with the American Cancer Society, the Bergen Student Government participated in the Great American Smokeout, a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and to encourage current smokers in breaking their habit.
The aim was to convince current smokers to quit, and to help those who were already considering quitting with planning and moral support.
From November 16 to 18, student volunteers manned tables outside the Student Government Office in the Pitkin Building. They handed out flyers and pamphlets, and answered the questions of passersby about the health risks of smoking (including warnings about e-cigarettes) and offered tips for breaking habits and pointing them to further resources provided by the ACS. For non-smokers and those who had already quit their habits, volunteers handed out souvenir rubber lungs.
For non-smokers on the fence, and those who do smoke, the pamphlets offered useful information that might give smokers extra motivation to quit, or incentive to avoid smoking altogether in the case of non-smokers. Beyond the obvious downsides of smoking such as cancer, the Smokeout also meant to raise awareness about the other less high profile health risks, such as smoking’s negative effects on behavioral and mental health, with one pamphlet citing a study that indicated a decrease in anxiety and depression after subjects had quit. Also advertised were the upsides of quitting, including reduced blood pressure and decreased risk of various cancers.
The information available encouraged people to convince their family or friends not to smoke, or to consider quitting.
Current smokers looking to quit would find useful tips for quitting. In the case of those who wished to quit slowly, they offered a long term plan and an optional timeline to deal with the nicotine addiction, including nicotine replacement therapy or prescription drugs. Included in addition to this option was going “cold turkey,” or to quit all at once with no compensation for the nicotine. In either case, the pamphlets acknowledged the difficulty of quitting smoking addiction and tried
For one student involved, the goal of the event is simple. When asked what makes the event important, a student volunteer summarized the event’s purpose neatly and succinctly. The purpose of the Smokeout is to “bring awareness to the fact that smoking is bad and causes cancer to everyone.” Every day is a potential day to quit, they say, but they do acknowledge it will not necessarily be easy. “You can quit, but it’s hard.” Though acknowledging the difficulty of breaking a smoking habit, the Smokout means to encourage people to try regardless.
In addition to the informational resources outside the student center, the campaigners also gave out information pointing those interested in quitting to additional resources, including telephone-based counseling services, and a support group that meets weekly, on Monday nights over Zoom.
Weekly Virtual Support Group
Mondays: 7pm-7:45pm ET
Meeting ID: 985 9718 6060
Password: smokefree (all lowercase)
One tap mobile: +13126266799,,98597186060#
Additional American Cancer Society Resources
You can call the American Cancer Society at:
Tips and Tools for Quitting: