It’s noon on Thursday, Nov. 16, and a group of students are distributing cigarettes and free sandwiches at the Bell Tower.
Well, they’re not your average cigarettes. Instead of paper and tobacco, these are rolled-up facts on the cost of smoking—for instance, that secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths each year.
The sandwiches are real, and they are filled with "cold turkey" and handed out with words of encouragement about the benefits of quitting smoking.
"One person’s health decisions can impact so many people," said Tatjiana Keys, an undergraduate nursing student there with members of the Students Cancer Action Network. "In a hospital setting, you can see how one person smoking affects their family and their children."
The students, joined by Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Jennifer Ibrahim, were promoting the health, environmental and economic benefits of smoking cessation for the Great American Smokeout, an annual nationwide event created by the American Cancer Society. Though the Cancer Action Network has organized a smokeout on Temple’s campus in the past, this is the first year that the College of Public Health has taken a role in sponsoring it.
In addition to the informational cigarettes and sandwiches, the group distributed gloves and plastic bags to passers-by, encouraging them to pick up discarded cigarette butts and report back. Whoever returned the most discarded butts each hour received a prize, but the tally also served as a way to map the areas on campus with the most cigarette litter—data that could inform future efforts.
The group plans to continue the efforts as part of a year-long initiative by the College of Public Health to explore possibilities for creating smoke- and tobacco-free policies on Temple’s campuses; in addition to the smokeout, the Smoke-free Campus Task Force is taking part in No Tobacco Day and Kick Butts Day in the spring.
"Being smoke-free is important for both the environment as well as for our cardiovascular and respiratory health," said Ibrahim. "As the College of Public Health, it’s our role and responsibility to advocate for the health of our campus."