Michael Lessel, '18, signs a pledge to live a smoke-free life at the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 20. This event was cosponsored by the Lehigh Colleges Against Cancer Organization and Peer Health Advisors with the purpose of encouraging students to quit smoking or to support friends who are trying to quit.(Rebecca Wilkin/B&W photo)

Great American Smokeout event encourages Lehigh students to quit smoking

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The Great American Smokeout, an event aimed at encouraging individuals to quit smoking or support friends who are trying to quit smoking, was held at the UC, STEPS and Rauch lobby Nov. 20.

The event was cosponsored by the Lehigh Colleges Against Cancer and Peer Health Advisers.

“The Great American Smokeout is hosted the third Thursday of every November and is sponsored by the American Cancer Society in order to raise awareness about smoking and lung cancer,” said Caroline Heitmiller, a fifth-year student, executive board member of Colleges Against Cancer and the Relay for Life development chair.

Information about the Great American Smokeout was displayed in Upper Court as members of the Colleges Against Cancer asked students walking by to “take the pledge.” Students choosing to live a smoke-free life and support the commitment of other’s to quit smoking signed their names to the pledge.

“Our main goal here is to lower the chances of cancer and save another life,” Heitmiller said.

This year is the 39th annual Great American Smokeout.

According to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, many individuals involved with this cause are calling on Pennsylvania Lawmakers to raise taxes on tobacco, making it less available for young people and more likely for adults to quit smoking.

The American Cancer Society is hoping to raise the cigarette tax in Pennsylvania by one dollar, with the aim of potentially helping 77,400 adults to quit smoking, preventing 85,500 young people from smoking, and saving 48,000 lives in Pennsylvania.

The American Cancer Society’s Action Network also states that as many as 28,000 Pennsylvanians will die from cancer this year, and a tobacco tax would help to reduce this number.

“I think that quitting smoking is a good step in the right direction of ending lung cancer and reducing the number of lung cancer cases,” said Jessie Brill, ’18, a member of Colleges Against Cancer. “Lung cancer is dangerous and prevalent right now.”

Members of the organization offered students free fliers from the Bethlehem Health Bureau, urging smokers to quit and advertising free counseling and nicotine replacement therapy.

“I’ve noticed that there is a lot of smoking on campus, but with smoking, as with anything else, it’s easier to quit if there is someone there to support you,” said Mary Cotturo, ’18.

Many students pledged to help friends or peers in their fight to quit smoking.

Colleges Against Cancer members also advertised “Eat For Change,” a dinner fundraiser that will take place at the Lehigh Valley Chipotle on Dec. 2 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fifty percent of the proceeds will be donated to the organization if the flier is shown in person or on a smartphone.

The Colleges Against Cancer members offered free turkey sandwiches to those pledging to quit smoking.

“We are encouraging the pledging students to quit cold turkey,” Heitmiller said.

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