PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Students Taking a New Direction (STAND) coalition chapters across Arizona will seize Great American Smokeout (GASO) on Nov. 21 to activate their local communities in the name of smoke-free environments and other important anti-tobacco topics. Originated by the American Cancer Society 36 years ago, GASO is a day when smokers are encouraged to make a quit attempt or to create a plan to quit. Although the main purpose of the day is to generate support for smokers who want to quit, this year there is a plea for them to consider the implications of secondhand smoke and a heightened attention on lung health.
“Parks are meant for everyone to enjoy. Trailing smoke is disruptive, a health hazard and bothersome; further the cigarette butts that are left everywhere, even in children’s sandboxes, are an environmental hazard.”
“When it comes to the health effects of smoking, it is usually cancer-related problems that you hear about,” said Kailie Renovato of Graham County STAND. “This year we want to remind people that smoking is highly detrimental to the lungs and that smoking affects people around you too.”
To that end, in partnership with the American Lung Association (ALA), STAND coalition members will be holding events throughout Arizona promoting the benefits of living and working in a smoke-free environment. STAND members will also collaborate with the ALA’s Better Breather’s Club to provide interactive demonstrations on how smoking can affect the lungs, urging all Arizonans on Nov. 21 to ‘decide today for life-long-strong lungs.’ As part of the set up, coalitions will display pledge walls in high traffic areas for smokers and non-smokers alike to either pledge to quit for the day or to never start.
Furthermore, STAND members will be showcasing their efforts to make their community smoke-free including working with local city and tribal councils to establish smoke-free parks and local colleges, with the intent of reversing statistics like those that follow:
- 227,000 Arizona kids are exposed to second-hand smoke at home
- 19.2 percent of adults smoke
- Globally, 6 million people die annually from tobacco-related illnesses
- Globally, 600,000 die due to second-hand smoke issues
Commenting on why this is a priority, Mary Kurth, COPD Collaborative Program Director of the American Lung Association in Arizona, said, “Parks are meant for everyone to enjoy. Trailing smoke is disruptive, a health hazard and bothersome; further the cigarette butts that are left everywhere, even in children’s sandboxes, are an environmental hazard.”
Social networking is also playing an important role this year, with STAND members changing their personal and coalition Facebook profile photo to a unifying image. Leading up to Nov. 21, the ALA (@ALAAZ) and STAND (@AZStand) co-hosted a Twitter chat featuring #GASO #decidetoday and #lifelongstrong as their official hashtags. A second ALA-hosted COPD Twitter chat will be held on Nov. 20 at noon using hashtag #COPD.
People who make a commitment to quit on GASO can get help by visiting www.ASHLine.org, or by calling the free Arizona Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-55-66-222. Teens and young adult smokers should visit the CIGNAL at www.theCIGNAL.com or call 1-800-55-66-222.
STAND is a statewide coalition of students ages 13-18 who work to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and urge elected officials at all levels of government to treat cigarettes as hazardous materials – including creating regulations for storage, transport, sale and disposal.
The Great American Smokeout is organized nationally by the American Cancer Society. It is held the on the third Thursday of November each year. In Arizona, it is supported by the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Tobacco & Chronic Disease. Learn more about the Great American Smokeout at www.cancer.org/smokeout.