Social Media Encourages NYS Students to "Be a Quitter"

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Pilot Project Brings Universities Together with American Cancer Society on Facebook and Twitter

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New York – (November 15) – Can Facebook and Twitter help college students quit smoking? That’s the question the American Cancer Society is asking as it gears up for this year’s Great American Smokeout.

Students at four universities in New York State will take part in a pilot project with the American Cancer Society to teach a campus-wide lesson on quitting—tobacco products, specifically. The new campaign—how to “Be A Quitter”—will take to university social media pages to encourage students to quit smoking and to become smoking cessation advocates. Participating colleges include, Buffalo State College, SUNY Cortland, Syracuse University, and the University of Rochester. The collaboration will take place in conjunction with the Society’s 2012 Great American Smokeout on November 15th and compliments a larger national "Be A Quitter" social media campaing from the American Cancer Society. Results from the pilot project will be reviewed for possible wider use on college campuses across New York State.

Social media is a critical tool for public health campaigns aimed at college students. According to Pew Internet Project research, 71% of Internet users with some college education utilize social media, with most using sites like Facebook or Twitter on a daily basis. “Be a Quitter” challenges university students to use these platforms to communicate the dangers of smoking and tips on how to quit.

“Be a Quitter” encourages college students to share smoking cessation messages on their personal social media channels. Suggested posts include “Smoking is one of the rare things in life when it’s ok to be a quitter. Make the Great American Smokeout – November 15, 2012 –the date you quit tobacco for good”. All posts will be originally listed as status updates on the university Facebook pages, at which point students will be encouraged to share the posts on their personal pages and feeds.

“Universities have a responsibility to provide safe spaces in which their students can learn and live,” said Alvaro Carrascal, Senior Vice President of Cancer Control, American Cancer Society. “This should include an environment free from secondhand smoke. By participating in ‘’Be A Quitter’’, students are taking an important step in the right direction.”

Being smoke-free and tobacco-free is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and helping to reduce your cancer risk. However, “Be a Quitter” appeals to factors that may resonate more with the college-age demographic, including the financial costs of smoking. For example: “What would you say to someone if you saw someone throw away $600? If the cost of a pack of cigarettes was around seven dollars, $600 would be the equivalent of smoking five cigarettes every day for one year.”

“As college students, that money could be used on groceries, to purchase college basketball season tickets or an airline ticket home,” said Carrascal. “But not only is spending $600 on tobacco products a waste of money, it also costs your health. Evidence suggests that if a young person does not begin smoking by the age of 26 than it is very unlikely that he or she will ever smoke.”

Looking to get a jump start on quitting smoking? Plan ahead and be a part of the Society’s Great American Smokeout on November 15th, where smokers can choose to pocket the $600 and begin a smoke-free lifestyle. Fourteen million people will celebrate another birthday this year, yet 45 million people in the United States smoke cigarettes. This November, let’s close the gap, become quitters, and create more birthdays.

If you or someone you know needs help quitting tobacco, visit cancer.org for resources and information to get started.

Additional Reading:
American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout
Be A Quitter on Facebook
Pin It to Quit It Contest on Pinterest

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About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

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