Campaign encourages UA smokers to quit
Every 13 seconds, someone dies from using tobacco, according to the American Cancer Society.
The organization is trying to lower that number by encouraging smokers to throw out their tobacco products for at least a day during the 23rd annual Great American Smokeout.
The Arizona Tobacco Information Network will be on the University of Arizona Mall today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to help students kick the habit.
Kimberley Cohen, outreach specialist for the network, said the organization will have a booth with "quit kits," along with pledge cards for smokers who want to vow to quit for 24 hours.
The kit includes a stress ball, gum, candy and brochures with tips on how to kick the habit, Cohen added.
Cohen said the network is focusing on the UA because the Center for Disease Control recently reported that the number of smokers ages 18-24 has surpassed all other age groups.
"Most people who smoke in that age group turn out to be lifetime smokers," Cohen said.
Cohen said quitting for 24 hours is the perfect amount of time for people to realize that they have a problem.
"For many it's an eye-opening experience because it will be the first time they'll realize that they are really addicted to a substance," Cohen said.
Cohen added that after smokers give up tobacco for a day, they will start to realize that quitting is harder than they thought.
"So many people say 'I'll quit when I'm ready,'" Cohen said.
Carolyn Smith, a representative of the American Cancer Society, said there are about 53 million smokers in the United States and about 32 million of those smokers want to quit completely.
Smith said the Smokeout's motto is "if smokers can quit for a day, they can quit for a lifetime."
Smith said smokers can also turn in their tobacco products at the cancer society's parking lot, 1636 N. Swan, and at all Papa John's Pizza restaurants.
The Great American Smokeout started in 1971 in Randolph, Mass., after a man named Arthur Mullaney asked the people in the town to donate the money they would have used to buy cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund.
Tucson started celebrating Smokeout day in 1976, and it was nationally recognized in 1977.
"For many of them, it will be the day they'll quit for good and for others they'll just quit for the day," Cohen said.
Tim Crawford, a graduate student, said he has been smoking for a year and a half.
Crawford said he has participated in the Smokeout before, but he is not sure if he will participate today.
He added that he doesn't think he is addicted.
"When I moved out here, I quit for four days," Crawford said. "I didn't have any cravings, it's just sometimes after dinner a cigarette is nice."
Mohammad Alsagri, an accounting sophomore who has been smoking for two and a half years, does not plan to participate in the Smokeout today.
"I can't stop smoking for day, I'm addicted," Alsagri said. "I've tried many times to quit, but I couldn't."