Monday, December 2, 2013

Jeffco Celebrates 40th Annual Great American Smokeout

November 21, 2013, marked the American Cancer Society’s 40th Annual Great American Smokeout (GASO). GASO is an annual event which encourages tobacco users to take the first step towards quitting tobacco products for the day or for life. The Jefferson County Tobacco Prevention Initiative hosted events at Red Rocks Community College and Lakewood High School to educate and encourage students to take on the tobacco-free challenge.

Students at Lakewood High School gather around an information
booth to learn about how tobacco affects the body
The event at Red Rocks Community College actively engaged participants with a video on the Journey of Quitting tobacco, a presentation with the latest on e-cigarettes, fact finding games, and several educational displays. Education focused on the harmful toll tobacco takes on our communities and our environment. Students learned that on the Red Rocks campus alone, more than three tons of environmentally toxic tobacco litter is generated each year, which is equivalent to the weight of a hippopotamus. They also learned practical facts about the true costs of tobacco use. For example, a pack-a-day smoker spends about $1,894.00 per year, which is more than some college students will spend on their tuition for the Spring semester.

The GASO information booth at Lakewood High School educated students about the health effects of tobacco on the body, resources and strategies to quit tobacco and information on how the tobacco industry uses marketing tactics directed specifically toward youth. Visual aids, including a set of pig lungs that mimic the damage 20 years of smoking can have on a human lung, made a lasting impression on students. Students who currently smoke were encouraged to take a test to measure carbon monoxide levels in their lungs as the result of tobacco smoke exposure while also being educated on how their body starts the process of recovery and healing shortly after becoming tobacco-free. The Tobacco Prevention Initiative also engaged students with a tobacco jeopardy game involving questions about the tobacco industry and incorporating education on marketing tactics such as low prices and flavors intended to entice young people.

According to the US Surgeon General, more than 1,200 people die prematurely from tobacco use in the United States and, for every eight who die from smoking, at least one person dies from secondhand smoke exposure. GASO is one of many opportunities to raise awareness about the quitting process and the benefits of tobacco-free living. For more information about the Jefferson County Tobacco Prevention partnership with Red Rocks Community College, contact Jamie Fanselow at or 303-239-7022. To learn more about youth tobacco prevention efforts in Jefferson County contact Christie Preston at or 303-275-7565. Click here to learn more about the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. To help yourself or others with preventing and quitting tobacco use, please see the “Quitting Tobacco in 2014” article in this edition of the Tobacco Prevention Tribune.

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