Over 20 tombstones encircled the grass in front of the bookstore Wednesday morning displaying the names and faces of icons whose lives were lost to smoking-related illnesses.
Celebrities such as Patrick Swayze, David Bowie and Walt Disney were some of the individuals represented on the tombstones. The event was put on by Student Health Service’s Breathe Campaign and was to encourage awareness about the consequences of smoking cigarettes, electronic-cigarettes and vaping.
Students passing by had the option to add their own tombstone in memory of someone they’ve lost to smoking. Students also got the chance to guess how many cigarette butts were in a huge glass jar for a chance to win a t-shirt.
“This is just from Monday,” said Andres Avila, intern for the Cal State Long Beach Breathe Campaign and senior science major. She spent over three hours with a group walking around campus picking up cigarette butts.
The jar contained over 2,000 butts. The rest of the booth had mints, gum and a “stop-smoking kit” filled with chewable candies and informational pamphlets. There was also a paper fortune teller with tobacco facts such as “cigarette smoke contains over 5,000 chemicals, 50 of which lead to cancer,” and “rocket fuel, nail polish remover and barbecue lighter fluid is found in tobacco smoke.”
Senior health science major Samantha Burlot was also working the booth.
“My grandpa smoked and he died young, around 50 or 60,” Burlot said. “He didn’t tell anyone [that he was sick] so we didn’t know.”
Natalie Whitehouse-Capuano, Breathe Campaign co-chair and health science professor, shed some light on other campuses who have banned smoking. While Cal State Long Beach has led the charge in making their campus smoke and vapor free, over 20 Cal State campuses followed suit in September. She added that the Veterans Affair Medical Hospital next door will also be working with the Breathe Campaign to ban cigarettes from the hospital grounds.
While the campaign brings awareness to the importance of maintaining healthy lungs, Student Health Services offers resources to students, staff and faculty to help kick their tobacco habit.
“If we catch students early they are more likely to stop,” Whitehouse-Capuano said.