Anti-tobacco forces gear up for Great American Smokeout


Nov 15

Grand Island Senior High students realize that quitting tobacco isn’t just about you. It’s also about other people.

“If you are trying to quit, you should surround yourself with positive attitudes, not negative ones,” GISH student Samantha Lozano said.

“A good reason to quit using tobacco is to stop and think about your kids’ future — not just yourself,” said Melissa Andrade, another GISH student.

Lozano and Andrade were among the students who installed a new “cup message” on Monday in the fence outside GISH. The message reads “Be Tobacco Free.” About 10 students inserted the special “push-in” cups into the chain-link fence. The project was a joint venture between Students Against Destructive Decision Making (SADD) at GISH and Tobacco Free Hall County.

Andrade said she wouldn’t want to start using tobacco because she wouldn’t want it to affect everyone “and because it’s about everyone — not just me.”

Lozano believes in willpower. “I believe, if you set your goal to quit tobacco, it’s all in your mind. If you believe it, you can achieve it,” she said.

This is a big week for those opposed to tobacco fumes. The annual Great American Smokeout will be on Thursday. On the third Thursday each November, the American Cancer Society urges tobacco users to quit or to use the day to make a plan to quit.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Tobacco Free Nebraska program provides a list of tips for Thursday, which is also known as Quit Day.

One tip is “Do not use tobacco — not even one puff or chew.”

“The benefits start immediately,” said Katie Usasz, coordinator of Tobacco Free Hall County.

Another tip is to stay active. Walking, exercising or doing other activities will help.

Usasz, a former smoker herself, endorses the benefits of exercising.

Walking, she said, helps her realize and appreciate her lung capacity. Exercise and giving up tobacco use go hand in hand.

On Quit Day, it’s also good to limit or avoid alcohol. Many smokers associate drinking with smoking, Usasz said.

Usasz, who gave up smoking seven months ago, advocates using the Nebraska Tobacco Quitline. That number is (800) QUIT-NOW, or (800) 784-8669. For Spanish speakers, the number is (855) 355-3569. Quitline callers may schedule five coaching sessions. Many times, they may be held with the same coach.

Usasz pointed out that smoking is a danger to more than just the smoker.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognize that “there’s no safe level of secondhand smoke,” she said.

The American Cancer Society also recommends attending a cessation class or beginning a self-help plan.

On Jan. 10, CHI Health St. Francis will start an eight-week Freedom From Smoking class. The cost of the tobacco cessation class is $25. For information, call Jenny Roush at (308) 398-8912.

Roush, who is the community outreach coordinator for St. Francis’ Cancer Treatment Center, points out that e-cigarettes and vaping present a significant health risk.

Next week, the SADD chapter at GISH will embark on another project, called Celebrity Graveyard. Artwork will be erected in a GISH hallway showing celebrities who’ve passed away, their birth and death years, and their causes of death.

The project will remind students that “our role models” sometimes make poor choices, the same way regular people do, GISH teacher Tara Nettifee said.

Looking at the celebrities’ causes of death, GISH students might be able to “learn from their mistakes,” said Nettifee, who is the SADD sponsor at GISH.

Source: Grand Island Independent