Great American Smoke-Out

By Gabby Queenan

Students at Macalester are surrounded by different influences every day. From cultural pressures to academic pressures, we tend to make decisions about our lives based on considerations of not just ourselves but others as well. Macalester is sometimes portrayed a campus that is filled with smokers—an exaggeration that is often taken way out of context. But at the same time we can all say that we all know at least one smoker in our lives. For that reason smoking is a complicated issue: we want to be supportive of our friends in the decisions that they make but at the same time we want them to make informative decisions about their health. As the daughter and granddaughter of avid smokers, smoking is personal for me because it can be extremely difficult to tell you someone you care about that their decisions are hurting them. Having seen my grandfather struggle and eventually fail to quit after years of trying, I understand the difficulty in trying to stop an addictive habit. A smoker since his early high school years, his inability to stop smoking was hard to watch. He would say over and over that he could “stop whenever he wanted” and that it “wasn’t a big deal.” But I can’t help but think that he may have lived his life differently if he had the help and support of people outside of the family. This November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society uses this time to encourage tobacco users to set a date to quit or even pledge to be smoke-free for 24 hours. The goal is motivational: to help smokers to think about quitting and raise awareness about effective quit techniques and programs. Macalester’s Great American Smoke-Out (GASO) event will be November 20 from 11-1 pm upstairs in the Campus Center. There will be information about tobacco legislation, quitting programs, and details about the American Cancer Society as a whole. The statistics are amazing—within 15 minutes of quitting your heart rate and blood pressure drop and within 12 hours of quitting the carbon monoxide levels in your blood returns to normal. The effects are immediate and powerful. The important thing to consider at the end though is that smoking is a choice. Everyone has a right to make their own decisions that affect their body. As a Mac student I feel that we’ve all been taught the value of protecting our own decisions from others that may try and take away our rights. But the GASO is about more than that. This is about the opportunity for students to reflect on the decisions they’ve made so far and think about making new decisions for their future. For those students who feel that they are comfortable with their decisions regarding smoking now that is completely understandable. But for those students who are uneasy about the choices they’ve made in the past and are curious about learning more about the process of quitting, Colleges Against Cancer provides a great support network. The American Cancer Society has a variety of great resources and even if you’re just looking to talk to someone about your smoking habits, this is an incredible resource. Making the decision to smoke is personal. We are an educated and diverse community and we all realize the consequences of making these choices. And just as every student on campus has the right to make the choice to smoke or not to smoke, every student should have the right to quit. For anyone that is interested in learning more about GASO or wants to learn more about Macalester’s Colleges Against Cancer chapter, please contact [email protected] or [email protected] refresh –>