For once, yesterday morning was a good time to be a smoker at UB.
The American Cancer Society, in conjunction with UB Against Cancer, hosted The Great American Smokeout in the Student Union Lobby. At the event, students learned techniques to quit smoking and received free nicotine patches and gum.
Students were given a "Passport to Being Smoke Free" when the event started. This passport, if marked at four of the six event tables, garnered students a free T-shirt.
Stations included a UBreathe Free initiative, a tobacco Plinko (a Price is Right game) table, a stress management table with supplies to color and paint, a consultation table, two health-screening tables, and a nutrition table.
The volunteers at the event realize that quitting smoking is not easy and that people who have the desire to quit need help and guidance along the way.
"Everyone is affected by cancer in some way, and that is why UB Against Cancer is putting on these events. We want to raise as much awareness as we can, and we want to do what we can to help out everyone who… is currently smoking and does want to make the difficult decision. We're here as a support network to try to encourage people," said Matthew Tibaldi, a second year business student at UB and a coordinator for The Great American Smokeout. "[We want to] to try to make this transition easier for those who want to quit."
At the game of Plinko, there were more chances to win free prizes. Students were asked three true or false questions. Depending on the number of questions that were answered correctly, students could drop up to three balls onto the Plinko board and win pajama pants or a lunch box.
In contrast to some anti-smoking strategies, the volunteers at The Great American Smokeout weren't trying to get in people's faces about quitting. Students could easily check out the event without being intimidated or overwhelmed.
The tables all had a laid-back atmosphere. Some offered candy to help students quit, and some had bubbles donning the message, "Blow Bubbles, Not Smoke." Other tables offered information about how tobacco companies market, about UBreathe Free, and about other universities' initiatives toward smoke-free campuses.
A unique aspect of the event was the presence of lung capacity and blood pressure tests. Smokers could get tested to see the physical effect that smoking has had on their bodies, making the advertised effects of smoking a personal reality.
"We're trying to avoid telling people things that they've heard before," Tibaldi said.
All of the information provided, along with the student testimonials about their experiences with quitting smoking, made for a pretty comprehensive anti-smoking event that put students on the right path to quitting.