“About 480,000 people in the U.S. die from illnesses related to tobacco use each year, killing more Americans than alcohol, auto accidents, AIDS, homicide, suicide and illegal drugs combined.”
Each year, San Diego State University takes part in The Great American Smokeout, a nationwide campaign by the American Cancer Society to raise awareness about the health risks of smoking and other tobacco use.
SDSU's Health Promotion department and its Peer Health Educators, a group of students that actively promote health and wellness on campus, will lead the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 19 on Centennial Walkway from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
While the number of Americans who smoke has declined in recent years, SDSU Health Educator Kashmone Williams believes students should be aware of the facts and the trends.
“It’s not just about smoking cigarettes,” Williams said. “Electronic cigarette use is highly prevalent among college students, which is something we need to address. Even though they may not be as high in nicotine content, you still find many of the same chemicals as you find in regular cigarettes.”
Leading the way to wellness
Health Promotion’s team of Peer Health Educators will be on-hand to educate students during the Great American Smokeout through games and activities as a way to encourage conversation about the dangers of smoking and the benefits of quitting.
About 480,000 people in the U.S. die from illnesses related to tobacco use each year, killing more Americans than alcohol, auto accidents, AIDS, homicide, suicide and illegal drugs combined, according to the American Cancer Society.
Peer Health Educators like Jake Gooing, a senior majoring in kinesiology, regularly assist with outreach events and workshops like the Great American Smokeout, to steer students and community members toward healthy lifestyles and behaviors.
“One in five deaths in America are related to smoking-related illness every year, and it’s one of the most preventable causes of death,” Gooing said. “Being a part of smoking prevention is something that is important to me, and the Peer Health Education program is something I wanted to be a part of before I go into medical school.”
A Peer Health Educator-in-training, junior Angie Cortez is majoring in public health at SDSU. She thinks hookah lounges have made smoking popular again because of its social aspect, despite carrying the same health risks as cigarettes.
“Most people don’t think it’s as bad as smoking cigarettes, but it’s still tobacco,” Cortez said. “It’s not a good idea to smoke hookah, but it’s what people are doing nowadays.”
Live well Aztecs
SDSU offers various support programs designed to help students cut down on addictive habits, including Counseling & Psychological Services’ new Tobacco e-CHECK UP TO GO online program aimed at reducing or eliminating all types of tobacco use.
Developed by two Counseling & Psychological Services’ counselors and one psychologist, Tobacco e-CHECK UP TO GO doesn’t require students to meet in-person with a counselor, though students still receive personalized feedback on their smoking habits.
Counseling & Psychological Services Director Jennifer Rikard said students in need of additional support, can find it in the ASPIRE program which is tailored to each individual student’s needs and goals toward leading a smoke-free life.
“ASPIRE is a personalized, motivating program where the student meets one-on-one with counselor to discuss all the factors of their lifestyle including tobacco use,” Rikard said. “Together they create a plan to cut back or quit by taking into account the negative consequences that the student wants to eliminate and what the student wants to accomplish.”
Aztecs for Recovery, a student support group for those who self-identify as having addictive behaviors, also meets weekly on campus.
For more information about Counseling & Psychological Services’ ASPIRE Program or Aztecs for Recovery, or to schedule an appointment with a counselor, students are encouraged to call (619) 594-5220.
Since 2014, SDSU has been a smoke-and-tobacco-free campus to protect the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.