Author: Lindsay Peterson

A Georgia College student steps outside, pauses and inhales, filling his lungs with acetone, ammonia, arsenic, benzene, butane, formaldehyde, lead and turpentine – just 8 of the more than 50 carcinogens found in the average cigarette.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the 46 million smokers in the U.S., college students are among the highest percentage of smokers. Almost 22 percent of adults ages 18-24 smoke, according to 2009 CDC data.

Their professors are not far behind them in their smoking addiction. According to the CDC data, almost 22 percent of people ages 45-64 are smokers. In 2009, the CDC found that adults in the Southeast were among the most prevalent smokers in the United States.

While there are no hard statistics for the percentage of students and staff that smoke at GC, it is not uncommon to see a familiar gathering of smokers sitting outside any of the dorms.

Lauren Luker, junior mass communication major, started smoking in order to get a break at her job as a server.

“You couldn’t have a break unless it was a smoke break,” Luker said.

Now, eight years later, Luker is worried about the health of her lungs and is planning on quitting after several previous failed attempts.

However, quitting such an addictive habit is not always easy, as Luker knows.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nicotine is as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Fortunately for GC students and staff who are interested in kicking their habit, there is a smoking cessation program held by GC three times a year.

Amy Whatley, the assistant director of the Wellness Programs, leads these free smoking cessation classes.

“(The classes) are held once every fall, spring and summer,” Whatley said.

However, this free program is not very popular among students.

“We’ve only had one student complete (the smoking cessation program) in the last three years,” Whatley said.

While the smoking cessation program is not very popular among GC students, the FDA is beginning a new advertising campaign that has been popular in other countries, such as Australia and Canada.

According to the FDA, as of September 2012, all packages of cigarettes must show graphic images of the effects of smoking and bold text warning of the dangers of smoking.

The graphics range from a man smoking through a hole in his throat to a mouth riddled with sores and rotting teeth – the cruel effects of oral cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, other countries have had a great success rate with this controversial method. A positive correlation has been shown between people becoming more aware of the harmful effects of smoking and choosing to quit.

The hope is that after being confronted with the grim side effects, such as oral cancer or death, smokers will be more motivated to cut down on their smoking habit or quit altogether.

Currently, smoking is responsible for 20 percent of deaths in the U.S., and is the leading cause of preventable death.

But the human body is resilient and begins to heal itself just minutes after the last cigarette is smoked.

According to the American Cancer Society, just 20 minutes after quitting smoking, blood pressure is noticeably reduced.

Twelve hours after a person quits smoking, the carbon monoxide level in their blood drops to normal.

At nine months, the smoker’s fatigue and shortness of breath decreases.

One year after quitting, an ex-smoker’s risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.

Ten years after quitting, the death rate for lung cancer is approximately half that of a continuing smoker.

Although university denizens find themselves among the most prone demographics of smokers, they can breathe more easily knowing that GC provides help for those who need it.

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