Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guest Post: The Great American Smokeout (GASO) Part 2 by Megan Johnson, MSKW, CHES and the class of HS 3073

Photovoice: a process in which people – usually those with limited power due to poverty, language barriers, race, class, ethnicity, gender, culture, or other circumstances – use video and/or photo images capture aspects of their environment and experiences and share them with others (Community Tool Box, 2013).

In an effort to bring awareness about tobacco use prevention, I gave my undergraduate class the opportunity to create a Photovoice project with their own interpretations of their environment as it relates to tobacco use. Each participant captured a moment in time and discussed their feelings about their photo. Below are their experiences:

“Butt-In” by Pamela Canady

This picture shows cigarette butts on the ground in front of a cigarette butt receptacle. Kroger, a smoke free facility, as a courtesy to their smoking customers placed a cigarette butt receptacle in front of their store by the trash can so that smokers could safely dispose of their cigarettes before entering the store.  Some of the smokers that shopped at the store were too lazy to place their cigarette butts into the receptacle and decided to litter instead.  Not only are those smokers polluting our air, they are also polluting our streets, and committing a crime all at the same time. 

Things are this way because some smokers don’t think that tossing their cigarette butts on the street is littering and if they do they don’t care.  Littering is a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $500.  This picture can show people that taking out the time to do what is right only takes a second and it can help the environment and improve their carbon footprint. 

What we can do to bring awareness to this problem and help to stop this type of littering is to become “butt-in-skis”.  When we see someone tossing their cigarette butts on the ground we need to “butt-in” and let them know that there is a cigarette receptacle around the corner or simply say, “Did you know that you just littered?”  The smoker may not acknowledge what you said; however, they will talk about what you did to others and this will spread the awareness and message about littering.  So, “Butt-in and tell people not to litter”.
Ashley Holiday

As a pharmacy technician we see firsthand the harmful effects that cigarette smoking does. Every day I service patients in long term care facilities with cancer, respiratory and heart disorders. This is a photo of the cigarette canister with old cigarette butts left on the ground. The unseen truth behind this photo is that the employees I work with are shortening their life span each and every time they smoke a cigarette. Not only that they are also harming non-smokers as we inhale the smoke walking into the building.

 This relates to my life because I have had several members of my family that have died because of cancer due to poor life choices they made with smoking and drinking. I can understand everyone needs a way to release some sort of pressure and stress, but smoking is not the answer. People should find other methods like yoga, exercising, reading, or therapy to alleviate the chances of smoking cigarettes. Although the e-cigarettes are said to be safe and not full of nicotine, studies are still being done to prove whether it may or may not cause cancer.

 This photo can be used to educate employers on the importance of designating smoke sections or eliminating it completely. Having the smoke area directly in front of the door is unprofessional and very distasteful. I have complained to my supervisor in regards to the smoke, I surely hate the smell of cigarettes and with respiratory problems I cannot be around the smoke. I have pushed to move the smoke section to a tree that sits about 30 meters from the entrance. Although the smokers at my job have complained about the distance of the smoke tent, it will alleviate the smell of Newports at the door and the cigarette butts can be placed in the trash bins. This will in turn change the appearance of our job establishment and hopefully cause the smokers to think twice about smoking another cigarette when they walk to the tent while it’s raining.

Quinnenietra Bell

What we see here is a few cigarettes on the ground in front of a service station as well as a few
around an almost empty trash can. The real issue is that a smoker walks into the store before putting out the cigarettes seen in the picture above. The empty trashcan represents how the smoke will feel once he/she has partaken in smoking, which can lead to major health issues. This relates to us because we are affected daily by the choices of a smoker who chooses to smoke in public.

 Things are this way because smoking cigarettes is legal and people don’t realize its affects on themselves as well as others. This image should be alarming to the fact that there is an empty trash can and the smoker chose to throw it on the ground which is an environmental no-no all together. In order to stop this issue there has to be greater punishment applied to those who litter cigarettes also there must be stricter rules on where smoking is allowed. We need to make this an inconvenience to the lifestyle of a smoker the way they have inconvenienced us with second hand smoke.

Usha Maratta
Most of the cigarette smokers know that smoking is injurious to health. But, it is very easy for them to ignore that truth. This picture shows a cup of coffee and a cigarette. But it has a great story behind it. This is not just a cup of coffee and a cigarette; this is my best friend’s breakfast that she has been routinely taking more than 10 years. Her every morning starts this way with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. All she smokes is two cigarettes a day, one in a morning and one at night before going to bed. She is a Nurse and she knows the harmful effect of cigarettes. It looks like one cigarette in the picture but this is not just one cigarette burning, it is burning her life, her family’s life and my life as well because I am also inhaling that smoke every day since I have been living with her. She thinks she is smoking only two cigarettes a day but when I did very simple math I got a result that she already smoked more than 7200 cigarette in the past 10 years. It is very hard to educate educated people that smoking is injurious to health because they are doing it after knowing everything. Also, when something changes into a habit or routine life it will be very hard for them to leave that life.

Most of the young people start smoking because of peer pressure and to show off but before they find out the harmful effect of cigarette, it will change into a habit and addiction and becomes a part of regular life.

This image can help educate people that cigarette is not a breakfast. Every single cigarette you smoke has a very harmful effect to our health.
As a single person I cannot do much about it but still I can spread the word cigarette smoking is injurious to health. I can make some flyers about the harmful effect of cigarette and let the people know how cigarette is smoking our health. Also, I can do math and let people realize how many cigarettes they have been already smoked since they started.

Annmary Thomas

I took this picture at one of the rooms in a motel my parents work at. The guy checked into the room, only stayed one night, and this is what was left in the ashtray the next morning. Concerning the back-story of these cigarette butts, I am assuming that he had nothing to do the whole time so he just sat and smoke. He might have had a lot of concern or tension that he did not know how to deal with so he kept smoking in order to release the stress. Just sat and smoke staring at the television, thinking he is smoking the stress away. My parents or I go to check the room once a customer leaves or checks out. When we open the room, the strong smell that is left over from the smoking encompasses us. A room that has been smoked in the whole night is worse, and it is very hard to get rid of that smell. My family is exposed to third hand smoking risks. Even if it is a non-smoking room people still smoke inside. People are going to smoke as long as cigarettes exist, and it is legal.

Things are this way because it has been like this for a long time. If the motel becomes an anti-smoking area, customers will be lost. My parents also have co-workers there who smoke regularly; there is the risk of losing them too. Prohibiting smoking inside is useless as they will, and there is no way to stop it other than monitoring them inside the rooms, which is not plausible. Looking at the picture I only think how gloomy and gross it is. The message from this picture to me is that the end result of smoking does not look as good as how the person might feel while smoking. Posting the picture of chronic smoker’s lung along with this picture might help in educating others. Banning smoking inside is the one thing that can be done to prevent this, but to what extent it will be effective is questionable. 

Diana Treviso

In the image of “no smoking including the electric cigarettes” is a good start for people not to smoke where they are endangering children and the people around them. Seeing this sign people can be calm that people won’t smoke around them but in reality people continue to smoke. It is easier for people to get away with smoking electric cigarettes without even being noticed. People are even doing them inside their jobs or even in class. They aren’t taking those signs seriously because people won’t notice because some don’t even give off the smell. As well as on tobacco-free campuses, students go near the school to smoke. There are many types of cigarettes, cigars and electronic cigarettes that people can now buy.

First think about what you are doing to yourself and the people around you. Think about your loved ones. If you don’t want to protect yourself, protect the people who are most precious to you. Cigarettes may not be the only thing that can cause people to get diseases, for example, lung cancer, but is one of the biggest causes. It can also be passed through second hand smoke, asbestos, and pollution or through genetics. Through this image we can learn to stop, even if it is one step at a time. 
We want people to learn how to control themselves and stop smoking by helping people understand what is doing to their body. Some say it is to release stress but we can help them find a better and healthier de-stressor. Smoking causes many deaths so we want to lower the percentage. Now we could try and help people live longer lives with their family and protect the ones around them. It is important for them to realize what smoking can actually do and how hard it is to lose someone because of it.

I would like to thank all of my students who participated in this project for they have helped raise awareness about the hazards of using tobacco products.
-Megan Johnson


Community Tool Box. (2013). Implementing photovoice in your community. Retrieved from

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Guest Post: The Great American Smokeout (GASO) Part I by Megan Johnson, MSKW, CHES

The Great American Smokeout- GASO

Annually, on the third Thursday of November, the American Cancer Society (ACS) encourages smokers to use this date to either plan to set a quit date or plan to stop smoking on that day. This year, the date falls on November 21 and people across the United States will either quit, plan to quit, or encourage a loved one to quit.

“Everyone Loves a Quitter”

Quitting smoking is hard. It takes the average smoker multiple times before they successfully quit for good, according to the American Lung Association. With each attempt comes a better understanding of personal triggers to smoke and with the next attempt, the smoker is closer to quitting for good. Listed below are a couple of resources available to help a smoker with quitting:

•    American Cancer Society: Stay Away from Tobacco

•    American Lung Association: Freedom From Smoking

•    American Lung Association: Stop Smoking

• Talk to an Expert (Quit Lines)


What are the Benefits of Quitting? (ACS, 2013)

I am happy you asked! There are many benefits to quitting and they start within the first 20 minutes!

20 minutes after quitting

 Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
12 hours after quitting
The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
2 wks-3 months after quitting
Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
1 to 9 months after quitting
Coughing and shortness of breath drops.
1 year after quitting
The risk heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
5 years after quitting
Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half.
Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker.
Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.
10 years after quitting
The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking.
The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.
15 years after quitting 

The risk of heart disease is that of a non-smoker's.


What are the Benefits of Smoking?

There are ZERO benefits of smoking! Smoking cigarettes can cause harm to nearly every organ of the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, smoking cigarettes can cause heart disease, stroke, cancer (lung, bladder, cervix, esophagus, kidney, larynx, mouth, pancreas, pharynx, stomach), aortic aneurysm, infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), lower bone density in post-menopausal women, increased risk for hip fracture, just to name a few.

Quick Facts (CDC, 2013)

  • 19% of all adults, 18 and older, were current smokers in 2010
  • It is estimated that each day, 4,000 people younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, with 1,000 becoming new daily cigarette smokers
  • Cigarette smoking is responsible for about one in five deaths annually, including deaths from secondhand smoke exposure
  • Smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers, on average
  • Approximately 69% of smokers want to quit completely
  • Approximately 52% of smokers attempted to quit in 2010.

If you are a smoker:
Set a quit date or plan to quit on Thursday, November 21, 2013. This is your chance to start on the path of getting yourself healthier. Use the resources from the post, call a quit line, and talk to your loved ones and gain support from those around you! As you see, there are many more benefits to smoking than there are to continuing to smoke.

If you are a nonsmoker:
Support a quitter! Most importantly, understand that it is hard to quit and easy to relapse. No matter what, continue to be supportive of them towards becoming healthier.

What are your plans for the Great American Smokeout?

Be sure to stop by next week for Part 2 where Megan shares a Photovoice assignment from the class she is teaching.

Megan Johnson, MSKW, CHES, is a second-year Doctoral student in Health Studies at Texas Woman's University. After receiving the Williams Health Education Endowed Fellowship in Summer 2013, she began teaching an undergraduate course at TWU. She plans to continue on the path to becoming a Tenured Professor.


American Cancer Society. (2013). When smokers quit- What are the benefits over time?.

American Lung Association. (2009). Most smokers make multiple quit attempts before they quit
smoking for good. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Fast facts: Smoking & tobacco use.
Retrieved from

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Great American Smokeout

The Great American Smokeout is November 21st. It is a day that the American Cancer Society encourages smokers to quit the use of tobacco. Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of chronic disease and premature death. In America, nearly 1 in 5 adults (43.8 million people) smoke cigarettes, 13.2 million smoke cigars and 2.2 million smoke tobacco in pipes. Smoking can lead to cancers, heart disease and pulmonary disease.

  Here are some other facts about smoking habits.

  • Smoking is more common in men 21.6%, women 16.5%. CDC 2006 for general population. 
  •  In college population equal numbers between men and women at 20% ( but University of Missouri (School of Medicine) found it could spike as high as 30%.
  • Almost no one starts smoking after age 25. Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers started smoking by age 18, and 99% started by age 26. Progression from occasional to daily smoking almost always occurs by age 26. 
  • The younger youth are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they’ll be addicted.
  •  Teens who smoke are not only short of breath today, they may end up as adults with lungs that will never grow to full capacity. Such damage is permanent and increases the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

To promote and celebrate those who have quit smoking, we asked Amber Fletcher to talk about her experience of quitting the smoking habit. Amber is a health studies undergraduate student and currently works in a family business. She started smoking when she was 14 years and smoked for 9 years. She is now 100% smoke free for three and half years. We appreciate Ms. Fletcher allowing us to interview her.

Why did you start smoking?

 Amber - I was a very insecure 14 year old who was desperate to find myself, which lead to hanging out with the wrong crowd. They all smoked, and so I did too. 

 What prompted you to stop smoking?

Amber - I was sick of it, and the control it had over my life. At 23 I started development some breathing issues every time I would lite up. It's as if I was developing some kind of smoke induced asthma. I also am extremely passionate about health education and knowing the risks made it even harder to continue. 
Ms. Fletcher quit smoking “cold turkey” and explained that the most difficult situation when quitting smoking was being around others who smoked and having cigarette after her coffee or meals. To ease the difficulty she starting working out and drinking more water. She also had a support from her family and boyfriend. 
Since she quit, Ms. Fletcher has noticed that her clothes smell fresh and clean, her teeth are white and has fresh breath and her car is smoke free. She is glad that by quitting she has reduced her risk of cancer, heart disease and lung diseases. She also was excited to share that she has saved almost $4,000 since she quit smoking. 

Ms. Fletcher has been 100% smoke free for three and a half years. Congratulations to you on kicking the habit!  

Our very own Cindy Snider quit smoking. Cindy currently serves as Administrative Assistant for the department. She too started smoking at a young age because she wanted to be like her friends. What prompted her to stop smoking was that her husband had a health scare and was told to quit smoking immediately and she joined him in the process. What was difficult for Cindy to quit smoking was the day-to-day associations she had with smoking. She gave the example that she would get into her car in the mornings and immediately would light a cigarette. Cindy was prescribed Wellbutrin by her doctor and she substituted cigarettes with Blow Pops to ease the difficulty of quitting. To quit, she chose the busiest day of her week and chose not to light up ever again. She noticed that her pocket book had a little more cash. She also noticed that her health had improved. She no longer had bronchitis and would recover from colds faster. Cindy smoked for almost 30 years and has been 100% smoke free for over 14 years. Congratulations, Cindy!

If you want to join in the Great American Smokeout festivities at Texas Woman's University there is an event by Student Health Services on Wednesday, November 13th in the Student Union from 11:30-1:00. There will be information on smoking, tobacco, and hookah and there will be kits for those who are ready to kick the habit.

Have you quit smoking? Share your tips on how you quit or things that made it easier.