The Great American Smokeout: UC Joins in Stand Against Smoking

Maria M. Silva, Spec. Assignment Reporter

Colleges Against Cancer at UC will be holding the Great American Smokeout (GASO) in Strebel Student Center to raise awareness about the dangers associated with smoking cigarettes, vapes, and Juuls and how they are associated with a higher risk of cancer.

Nationally, the American Cancer Society has organized the Great American Smokeout for 40 years with activities and events in colleges and communities across the country.

At UC, the GASO will be celebrated on Nov. 15 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Strebel Lounge. Peter Gaughan, a UC student and the Relay for Life Chair for Colleges Against Cancer, said this year’s event will “be bigger than ever.”

During the event, visitors will receive information about ways of quitting smoking as well as the “the ingredients and effects of cigarettes, vapes, and juuls,” Gaughan said. Specifically, vapes and Juuls have become popular among campuses, including UC.

“People tend to justify the use of vapes and Juuls as being safer than cigarettes, but if you really knew what can be found in vapes and Juuls and knew the effects of inhaling smoke you probably would be less likely to say they are safe,” Gaughan said.

Besides information on quitting smoking, the GASO will also offer visitors activities such as cold turkey bowling, a lung dart board, a piñata and social media frames and crafts.

The Construction Management Department will also be involved on Nov. 15, hosting a cornhole fundraising event. UCPB will be holding a karaoke night from 9-11 p.m. called “Sing Your Lungs Out” because “lung cancer is such an important form of cancer connected to smoking,” according to Gaughan.

There is no specific data that reveals how many members of the UC community smoke, but Gaughan admitted that “our campus is definitely not tobacco-free.”

“We have smoking areas and a lot of students that do smoke,” Gaughan said. “One thing that we are pushing forward is to, at least, limit smoking on campus, if not get rid of it completely.”

Colleges Against Cancer will also provide a petition directed to the governing body of UC.

“We will be having a petition drive to encourage the school to re-examine its smoking policy,” Gaughan said. “We should be moving towards getting rid of smoking in general as a society, and we can start by doing it on this campus.

“There has been a push to make our generation the generation that quits smoking in the United States, and I think Utica College should pick up the idea and run with it.”

As president of Colleges Against Cancer at UC, Casey Hourigan has been working on ideas for the GASO. Along with the members of Colleges Against Cancer, Hourigan is striving to make UC a smoke-free campus, but she admitted “that is going to be difficult.”

“I feel personally affected by cancer because my dad died of lung cancer, so that’s why I am pushing this event because I don’t want someone else to lose their life because of that terrible disease,” Hourigan, a junior, stated.

Hourigan said that events such as the Great American Smokeout “are important because, sadly enough, we are all affected in some way or another by cancer, so just by simply creating awareness we could prevent someone from losing their life to it.”