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Smoking risks not considered by students

For junior Elijah Waeterling, quitting smoking is more complicated than just putting away the pack.

Waeterling, who has tried to quit smoking three times, is concerned not only about quitting, but also with the possibility of gaining weight when he does.

“Last time I quit, I gained like six pounds, so that’s definitely another reason why it makes it hard to quit,” he said. “The fear of getting fat makes me not so excited to quit.”

Most smokers gain between six and 13 pounds within six months of quitting, according to the American Medical Association.

Faith Yingling, director of Wellness, said some smokers might gain weight from eating more after quitting.

The fixation of doing something with your mouth is the hardest habit to get over when quitting, Waeterling said.

“When you quit smoking, you get stressed out really easily,” he said. “Food is a way to relieve stress instead of smoking. It’s the only thing to calm your nerves other than a cigarette.”

While quitters may gain some weight, they also reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, Yingling said.

“Even that gain of six to 13 pounds in the long run is going to be better than not quitting smoking,” she said.

Cardiovascular disease is not the only risk smokers reduce when they kick the habit, Yingling said.

There are many long-term risks for smoking, such as infertility and cancer, as well as many short-term problems like bronchitis and asthma, she said.

Smoking can also cause coronary heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 443,000 deaths or nearly one out of every five deaths a year is associated with smoking, according to the CDC.

Most college students know there are risks for smoking, but don’t know they are at risk now, Yingling said.

“I think that at some point people have heard the health effects of smoking,” she said. “I think it’s hard to not these days, but I think this age group, this population, just doesn’t think in terms of it’s going to effect them now. The risks now don’t seem relevant.”

Some colleges and universities across the nation are turning to smoke-free campuses, said Alex Solis, Undergraduate Student Government president.

USG is working on a proposal to make designated smoking sections throughout campus and promote a healthier campus, he said.

Although some state officials and University administrators want campus to be completely tobacco free, Solis wanted to compromise to please students on campus, he said.

“When USG first decided to endorse this proposal or idea, we did a lot of outreach to students,” he said. “I wanted to make a decision based on everyone. Our goal is to make it a healthier campus.”

Some people believe limiting smoking on campus will benefit the health of students, faculty and staff.

“Anytime you can make a positive health change I think it’s a positive step in the right direction, and I think it’s evident from a national trend,” Yingling said.

Waeterling said the smoking areas would still benefit those who still want to smoke on campus.

“I think that they definitely have to consider other people that do smoke,” she said. “Some people smoke while walking to class and their smoke blows in people’s faces. Even though I smoke, I don’t want other people’s smoke blowing in my face. A smoking ban is impossible, but making smoking sections would be fair.”

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