University of Cincinnati students partnered with the American Cancer Society Thursday to put on The Great American Smokeout — an event to encourage students to quit smoking.
Nearly six million lives are taken each year and many cut 10 years short due to cigarettes, according to the American Cancer Society.
The annual event comes as part of Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The third Thursday of November is set aside to encourage smokers to quit.
The idea behind the event is that if an individual is able to quit, even if just for one day, they will be making an important step toward a healthier life.
Ryan Gaffney, a fourth-year marketing and international business student helped orchestrate The Great American Smokeout at UC.
Gaffney said they are there to help people who want to quit smoking carry out the goals.
“Being a campus organization, this is a bunch of young people with a fairly significant amount of people who smoke,” Gaffney said.
At the Thursday event, Gaffney and American Cancer Society representatives accepted monetary donations in exchange for hot dogs.
Every donation made at the Smokeout went towards the American Cancer Society and prevention services for cancer patients, according to Allison Smock, a community manager at Relay for Life.
“We have some really great programs that you can get here locally here in Cincinnati that not all facilities have,” Smock said. “For example we have the hope lodge and it is a place where people can come and stay for free with a loved one if coming to Cincinnati offers them their best chance of survival to get treatment.”
The donated money will also go towards transportation programs for those who do not have access to reliable transportation.
“Money also goes to different programs such as Road to Recovery, where free transportation is offered for people who do not have a ride to get to chemotherapy and radiation,” Smock said. “So, really all the money goes to a lifesaving mission.”
When it comes to the fight against smoking, many have their own life experiences pushing them to suit up for this battle.
For Gaffney, having a mother diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and given three months to live is the reason behind his fight.
“It wasn’t looking too good and I told her if she could try and keep fighting, I would keep fighting,” Gaffney said. “So, she kept fighting and now she is going on five years with beating her diagnoses and she is in remission surviving, and I am still here fighting.”
For Ally Kampel, a first-year early child education student, her battle also stems from a family member.
“My sister has smoked for years now and as I have aged, I have seen it taken a toll on her health,” Kampel said.
Kampel’s passion for her sister’s wellbeing was only emboldened as she discussed her nephew’s future with her sister.
“She has a three-year-old son, and I wish she would consider the damage that occurs in her body when she smokes, because I want her to be here for me and her son,” Kampel said.