BU Today

Campus Life

Kicking the Habit

Having trouble kicking the habit? Take advantage of Kick Butts Day on April 5.

Tobacco use causes more deaths each year than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet despite all the adverse effects of nicotine, smoking is one of the hardest habits to break because of nicotine’s severely addictive nature. On Thursday, April 5, Boston University will offer help and support to smokers with Kick Butts Day, an annual event that educates young people about the dangers of smoking.

Nearly one of five deaths in the United States each year is the result of cigarette smoking. It causes 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in women and nearly 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in men — not to mention cancers of the bladder, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, cervix, kidney, pancreas, and stomach and acute myeloid leukemia. But many smokers get addicted at a very young age, leading to a lifetime of tobacco addiction in spite of the health risks.

“Kick Butts Day focuses on the ways tobacco companies target young people and the ways that youth can speak out against tobacco companies through activism,” says Beth Grampetro, health and wellness educator for the Office of Residence Life. “If you can’t convince people that smoking is bad for their health, you may be able to get them fired up about the way these companies are trying to take advantage of them.”

The day’s events are geared toward making young people aware of the ways tobacco companies target them and toward educating them about the risks involved in smoking and the toxins that cigarettes contain. According to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco and tobacco smoke. Of those, over 60 are cancer-causing agents.

Grampetro, who is organizing the event on campus, will be at an information table in the George Sherman Union Link from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday. Students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to stop by and learn what’s really in a cigarette, pick up information about smoking and how to quit, and sign a pledge declaring their intent to quit or to support someone else who is quitting.

“Hopefully, if people learn something new about cigarettes and tobacco company tactics, they may think twice about smoking or about their loved ones who smoke,” says Grampetro. “If you have been trying to get a friend to quit and telling them that it’s bad for their health hasn’t worked, maybe you can use this information to approach them at a new angle and really encourage them to quit.”
  
As to whether people heed the important messages presented on Kick Butts Day, Grampetro says, it’s up to the individual. “Smoking is a personal choice,” she says. “We can only continue to give people all the information possible so that they can make an informed decision about this, just like any other health behavior.”

Meghan Noé can be reached at mdorney@bu.edu.