Josh Falcone – General Assignment Reporter –
Southern freshman Ireishka DeJesus looked up from the walkway of the Lyman Center, and stared at the Ziploc bag full of cigarette butts.
“I hate to see my campus be destroyed by cigarette butts,” DeJesus said, ‘they’re gross and dirtying up the whole Southern campus.”
DeJesus was taking part in the Southern Health & Wellness Center in conjunction with the Drug and Alcohol Resource Center “No Butts Allowed at Southern.” A contest the center was holding last Wednesday, where Southern students were encouraged to help clean up the Southern campus by collecting cigarette butts.
The Health & Wellness Center was set up in the Adanti Student Center.
Graduate intern and Wellness center staff member Cyrena Duncan said the contest was part of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout.
“Students are given gloves and bags to collect used butts,” she said, “and when there are finished, they come back and fill out label to put on the bag.”
Duncan said the four participants who collected the most used butts won $25 gift cards.
In addition to the contest, the Wellness Center had posters with various facts and photos of the effect smoking has on the human body. The staff was also handing out pamphlets to those interested in quitting smoking. There were also signs along the walkway between Engleman Hall and Adanti Student Center listing facts about the dangers of smoking.
According to the American Cancer Society, 44 million Americans smoke cigarettes, or nearly one in five adults. The ACS also states that $96 billion is spent on tobacco related healthcare in the United States. Nine million people live with smoking related serious illness, and smoking is responsible for one in five peoples deaths, according to the ACS.
One participant, freshman Chloe Tompkins kicked her tobacco habit and now doesn’t care for cigarettes.
“I use to smoke cigarettes,” she said, “I quit, and now I think smoking is absolutely disgusting.”
Tompkins said that the smell of stale cigarettes that wafts from those that smoke is nauseating.
The ACS Great American Smokeout website lists the most successful ways for smokers to kick their habit. Such as nicotine replacement products, prescription medications to lessen smoker’s cravings, counseling, and garnering support and encouragement from family and friends.
Freshman Megan Rattanni said that witnessing people smoking cigarettes bothers her immensely.
“My grandfather has been smoking since he was nine,” Rattanni said, “and it breaks my heart to see young people smoking. It’s really sad.”
Rattanni said she was upset not only by the large amount of the Southern community that smokes, but also that the smokers were litterbugs.
‘If they’re going to poison themselves and those around them,” she said, “at least they can put their butts in an ashtray. Pigs!”
DeJesus, Tompkins, and Rattani all said even though their Ziploc bags were almost completely filled, they planned on going around as much of the Southern campus that they could cover to pick up even more used cigarette butts.
“My bag is almost filled to the top,” DeJesus said, “but there’s the whole other side of the campus to make sure is cleaned up. I want to get every butt cleared that I can.”
DeJesus said she’s thinking of going to ask Duncan and the Wellness staff for additional Ziploc bags to fill up.