The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), a student organization at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), raised awareness about the dangers of smoking and vaping to celebrate the Great American Smokeout on campus. 

The organization, formerly named Relay For Life, set up a table in Union Court, a popular lunch spot inside UNH’s student building, during the busiest hours. The focus of the table was a large poster titled “Don’t Be an ASH. SUPPORT the GREAT AMERICAN SMOKE-OUT!” The Great American Smoke-Out is held on the third Thursday of November and is dedicated to inspiring smokers to quit. 

Mackenzie Nicholson, the New Hampshire grass-roots manager of ACS CAN, described the Great American Smokeout as “an opportunity to have people start their journey towards a smoke free life.” 

Nicholson said that vaping has been a concern of the Great American Smokeout for the past four years as an “e-cigarette epidemic in New Hampshire” developed. 

Cigarettes, Juul pods and a full Juul decorated the poster. These items were collected around the UNH campus by members of ACS CAN, Alexis Goldstein and Jenna Barrows. Goldstein said that the Juul was given to them by someone who wanted to quit vaping. 

Goldstein also talked about the dangers of vaping. She said that “the scary part” is how little anyone knows about the long-term effects of vaping.  

“It’s getting out of control and we don’t even realize … even the people involved don’t realize,” Barrows said. 

The poster at the table stated statistics about smoking and vaping, such as “People who smoke can lose 10 + years of their life” and “Smoking cigarettes kills more Americans than alcohol, HIV, car accidents, guns, and illegal guns COMBINED.” The benefits of quitting smoking were also included in the poster, stating statistics such as “20 min. after quitting your heart rate and blood pressure drop” and “The risk of heart disease decreases by half after a year of quitting smoking.” 

Petitions to raise the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 in New Hampshire were also available for students to sign at ACS CAN’s table. The petition flyers read “Protect New Hampshire kids from the health risks of tobacco.” 

ACS CAN states that they are a “nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society,” promote “evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem,” and work “to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority.”