Great American Smokeout coming to SRU Nov. 17


hands breaking a cigarette in two pieces

Nov. 11, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The Great American Smokeout is coming to Slippery Rock University Nov. 17, but it has nothing to do with charcoal, dampers or prime cuts of meat.

Rather the "flavors" of the day will be a bit on the undesirable side - nicotine, tar and tobacco.

As part of the annual, nationwide event to stamp out smoking, including hookah and electronic cigarette use, SRU's Healthy Outreach through Peer Education group will partner with the Pennsylvania Public Health Association and Colleges Against Cancer to offer an education program on the dangers of smoking and chewing tobacco from 12:30-2 p.m. in the Bailey Library lobby.

Despite a recent decline, smoking continues to be a recreational habit for nearly 17 percent of American adults and 10 percent of the nation's college students.

"HOPE and PPHA educators are devoting the day to engaging students with interactive information and activities surrounding tobacco and nicotine," said Renee Bateman, health promotion coordinator at SRU. "Volunteers will be standing by to answer any questions, assist potential quitters with personal strategies and distribute updated literature."

Educators will also be taking a step further to warn students against

non-traditional smoking devices such as e-cigarettes, vapes and hookahs.

Despite the grim reality of severe health risks posed by these trendy nicotine-based products, there has been a dramatic rise in product usage among young adults. In addition to being a favorite among college students, more than 3 million middle and high school students admitted to using an e-cigarette in 2015, an increase of more than 540,000 from the year before.

"We want our students to be aware that the choices they are making for their bodies are not necessarily safe," said Bateman. "There is a real need for general awareness and information surrounding these e-cigs, hookahs and vapes, because I think a lot of people perceive these things have no impact when that is certainly not the case."

While studies on these more contemporary products are only just beginning, results to date confirm that the health risks may be just as damaging as traditional tobacco-based products.

Smoking hookahs exposes users to 15 times more carbon monoxide and higher amounts of arsenic, lead and nickel than a single cigarette; while 60 minutes of hookah usage could potentially expose a user to the same amount of nicotine and tar as an entire pack of cigarettes.

In addition to nicotine, e-cigarettes contain a variety of harmful chemicals including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, which are probable catalysts of cancerous diseases.

"My first advice to any smoker who is thinking about quitting would be to educate yourself on what you are doing for or against your personal health," said Bateman. "Secondly, I would urge smokers to come to this event to develop an individual strategy that is going to work for you. You can't accomplish anything in life without a plan and Nov. 17 is your day to start."

MEDIA CONTACT: Maizee Zaccone | 724.738.2091 |