By Dylan Marson

Hundreds of Students celebrated healthy lungs and a tobacco free campus as the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout made its way to EKU.

The event, hosted on Nov. 16 at Powell Corner, was a collaborative effort by the EKU Tobacco Free Taskforce, Campus Recreation, Student Health Services, and other university programs to encourage students, staff and faculty alike to quit smoking.

“This event is set up so that smokers across the nation can take part in the American Cancer Society,” said Vishal Nathu, the graduate assistant for the Campus Recreation Student Wellness Office. “By doing so, we can encourage people who want to quit smoking, and actively promote that halting process.”

Featuring a variety of activities, the event had students lining up and crowding each of the booths and activities. It was estimated that there were at least 550 interactions with the people who attended the event, and at least 600 Colonels Kick Butt t-shirts were given away to promote the program according to Jason Marion of the department of environmental health science.

Among the activities at the event was a photo booth, in which some students took pictures with a giant walking cigarette. Students were provided free food by Domino’s pizza, Jimmy Johns, and Raising Canes. A large banner was signed by many students in support of a tobacco free campus as well. Several booths offered different information, allowing students to learn about what makes up cigarettes, how they affect Kentucky today, and the resources available to those who wish to quit.

“It’s great to support an event like this on campus,” said Savannah Hatmaker, a junior Nursing major. “If you want to quit smoking you have this program and community to help you.”

Hatmaker said she learned a lot from the event, especially about the large number of harmful products that cigarettes are made up of.

According to the National Cancer Institute, Kentucky is currently leading the nation with anywhere between 82 and 200 lung cancer cases per 100,000 people. The top counties affected by lung cancer in the U.S. are also counties from Kentucky. Marion stressed the importance of this issue.

“So many of our students come from backgrounds or families where they have been touched by lung cancer,” Marion said. “Smoking is the number one driver of the issue.”

Marion continued to say that the Colonels Kick Butt Team try their best to help young people and the university to set an example for the generations to follow. He said he believes that students can be a big part in helping their family, friends, and coworkers to stop smoking.

According to Marion, there are a variety of tools and resources available to students and university employees who are interested in quitting smoking. Information and events can be found at tobaccofree.eku.edu. Students can contact the Student Health Services office and the EKU Counseling Center for help and support. Faculty and staff can find help through the Human Resources Offices and the Healthy EKU program. Hotlines are also available through the University of Kentucky at www.smokefree.gov or 1-800-QUITNOW for any students or employees who need someone to talk to about quitting.

“It is extremely important that the whole campus realizes that we stand with them,” said Nathu. “If they really want to quit smoking, we are there for them and with them, and they are not alone.”