USF to observe the Great American Smokeout

On Nov. 19, USF Wellness EducationStudent Health Services and the USF Area Health Education Center Tobacco Cessation program office will celebrate the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout.

Smokers will be encouraged to pledge to quit, even if for the day.

“The Great American Smokeout offers a short, tangible goal that requires less of a formal commitment. It is more likely that a smoker will commit to quit for a day,” Alexa Bryant, staff assistant at the USF Area Health Education Center, said. “To successfully quit for the day can increase a smoker’s confidence in their own ability to make a more permanent commitment later.”

PSA ACS Smokeout

Tobacco use remains the largest cause of preventable disease and premature death in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.

“This observance is a great time to encourage smokers to go the distance,” Bryant said. “Smoking is a habit that has become a part of a smoker’s daily life; quitting is very hard and it may take several attempts to be successful.”

Bryant adds that external support in the quitting process is necessary.

“The best way to get involved is to encourage and support smokers and other tobacco users to quit,” she said. “As health professionals and students, we all know and understand the negative health outcomes smoking can cause, and it is the responsibility of USF Health as a whole to put into practice what we are promoting.”

The first Great American Smokeout was celebrated in Nov. 1976 when the California division of the American Cancer Society got close to one million smokers to quit for the day, according to Bryant.

The American Cancer Society reports that close to 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes. However, the side effects of smoking cessation can be seen as soon as 20 minutes after quitting, including a drop in heart rate and blood pressure.

Info Graphic Great American Smokeout

Bryant hopes to see the USF community become highly involved through inviting students, colleagues and family who use tobacco to make a pledge to quit for the day.

“We want them to share the message of living tobacco free and the positive affect it will have on them and the community they touch daily,” she said.

In 2009, USF Health was designated as a tobacco free area, but President Judy Genshaft announced in her Fall President’s Address that as of January 2016 the entire USF Tampa campus will become smoke and tobacco free.

For more information, contact Alexa Bryant at asbryant@health.usf.edu.

Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health. Graphics courtesy of the American Cancer Society.