Today will be a day of carrot sticks and chewing gum for millions of smokers nationwide. The American Cancer Society is asking smokers to put away their cigarettes, pipes and cigars as part of the 15th annual Great American Smokeout -- at least for the day. On campus, Student Health will distribute information about quitting smoking, said Health Education Director Susan Villari. And while Student Health has sponsored events like "Fun Runs" in past years to promote the Smokeout, no special events are planned this year due to low turnout the last few years. "In the past we've tried several things but we've not gotten a lot of response," Villari said. Villari said that counseling for smokers who want to quit is available at Student Health year-round, but that there are "only a handful of requests over a year's time." A program for faculty and staff members has also been canceled due to poor attendance. "Attendance [for last year's program] was just a handful of people, despite a lot of advertising," said Training Specialist Marisa Buquicchio. "I guess people aren't interested in quitting for the day." Renee Benderski, a facilitator for the Philadelphia ACS Fresh Start program which provides counseling for people who want to quit smoking, said that today's Americans are less interested in smoking than in years before because "more and more, it is becoming socially unacceptable to smoke." Benderski, a former smoker herself, said that if people want to quit, they should not get discouraged if they cannot stop completely right away -- it took her seven attempts before she was able to go "cold turkey." Benderski suggested that people drink water to help ignore the cravings for nicotine. "Drinking allows you to satisfy the oral desire and not gain weight," Benderski said. Larry Kaiser, director of the University's new Center for Lung Cancer and Related Disorders, wants people to use the day to see the dangers in smoking. According to Kaiser, 85 to 90 percent of all cases of lung cancer can be linked to smoking. "This suggests that lung cancer is a preventable malignancy if we can prevent enough people from starting to smoke," said Kaiser. "The intent [of the Smokeout] is to get people to stop for a day with the idea that if they can stop for a day perhaps they can persist [in not smoking]." Last year, 7.4 million people -- approximately 15 percent of all U.S. smokers -- stopped smoking for the day. This year, the ACS is hoping to get 20 percent participation in its goal to create a "smoke-free nation." The American Cancer Society estimates that there are about 50 million smokers and about 38 million former smokers in the U.S. today.Comments powered by Disqus
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