Event battles smoking

Lindsay Sainlar

For those who have tried to quit smoking more times than they can remember, today is the day to try again.

In an attempt to shed awareness on the dangerous effects of tobacco use, health centers across the nation are participating in the Great American Smokeout.

The event encourages habitual cigarette smokers to quit for at least a day, but hopefully for the rest of their lives.

Health Services and the Topperwell Peer Educators are sponsoring the smoke-free day outside JavaCity, Downing University Center and Thompson Complex today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ?

Health educator Joe Moran said several educators will be handing out smoking-cessation kits, which include gum, pencils and information on the dangers of smoking.

Moran said there will also be giant replicas of cigarettes listing all the different toxins and carcinogens that are found in a pack of Camels or Marlboros.

He said that cigarettes share a lot of the same chemicals that are found in both Windex and toilet bowl cleaners. ?

“The sooner people quit, the better off they are,” Moran said, adding that smoking can lead to other cancers besides lung cancer, such as cancer of the mouth, stomach or cervix.

Moran grew up in eastern Kentucky, where tobacco farming is prevalent, but he said he has never smoked a cigarette in his life. He said the smell has always bothered him, and the mere fact that it’s a big health risk has steered him away. ?

According to the American Cancer Society Web site, www.cancer.org, the nicotine drug found in cigarettes is as addictive as heroin and cocaine. It causes the body to become both physically and psychologically fixated on smoking cigarettes. ?

When smokers attempt to quit, they physically react with withdrawal symptoms because of the absence of a drug they became dependent upon, according to the Web site. Psychologically, ex-smokers fight a habit they became accustomed to.

A smoker who quits gains an average of 10 pounds and a considerable number of years to his or her life expectancy, the Web site said.

Another group bringing attention to the ever-growing problem of cigarette use is the Health and Wellness Center, located in the Greenwood Mall. The Health and Wellness Center is not affiliated with the university, though it employs some Western students.

Vickie Cash, coordinator of the Health and Wellness Center, said several respiratory-care practitioners will administer free spirometry screenings today from 2 to 6 p.m. ?

The spirometry screening tests the functioning lung capability of a particular patient. Cash said it measures lung airflow and volume and notifies patients of any possible airflow obstructions.

The screening takes a few minutes and only requires blowing a puff of air into the spirometry machine. ?

Cash said preventing pulmonary disease is important, especially in Kentucky, where chronic diseases are abundant.

“We all have friends and family members with lung diseases, and this screening just brings more awareness to it,” she said.

Reach Lindsay Sainlar at [email protected]