November 28, 2007 > Smoke out!
Where there's smoke, there's trouble
For the last 31 years, the American Cancer Society has been calling out to smokers to quit for at least one day each year. Following decades of enticing obvious and subtle messages to the American public that smoking cigarettes and cigars is a sign of sophistication and rugged individualism, the truth about tobacco's role in destroying healthy bodies eventually surfaced. Many have been convinced to avoid smoking while others have quit, but tobacco sales still reign although the cost of a pinch of the stuff is exorbitant.
Thursday, November 15 was designated as the 2007 Great American Smokeout. On this day, concerned people across the nation worked to raise awareness of the problem, lobbied for smoke-free environments and asked smoking addicts to attempt to quit. Strategies included the American Cancer Society's Quitline(r), a clinically proven, free telephone-based counseling program, at 1-800-ACS-2345, and information and resources at www.cancer.org/greatamericans.
At Robertson High School, Peer Teacher Mike Cox and students of his class were busy erecting 150 tombstones on the front lawn. This annual reminder includes names of well-known personalities who have succumbed to smoking-related illnesses. Students are often surprised by the names and inquire about lesser-known diseases appearing on the tombstones. Cox notes that the display always provides food for thought and sparks discussion. As a rationale for this labor-intensive task, he says, "This is one more way to get one more person to stop smoking...it's worth it." Mike's role at Robertson High School is to encourage frank and practical discussions along with an academic curriculum. Now in his 34th year of instruction, he says that continuation school students are bright and curious but often need a different scholastic structure to excel. Cox says that The Great American Smokeout display is just one of many opportunities during the year which allow his students to confront and investigate significant issues of daily life.