Springfield, Ohio - Next month on the campus of Wittenberg University, students will see many signs that smoking is a bad habit. While this message is not new, the images and the captions may carry a greater impact because they were created by fellow students as part of a campus-wide poster contest sponsored by the Health and Wellness Center.
The inhalation of second-hand smoke kills 65,000 non-smokers per year and causes illness in up to 300,000 more non-smokers, according to the National Cancer Society. Another alarming fact is that Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) contributes to 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually in non-smokers. College students should be aware that smoking is the third largest cause of dorm fires in the U.S. They may also be interested to learn that most long-term smokers did not consider addiction a problem when they started to smoke.
The contest drew 57 entries, and the top five student-designed posters were chosen as the winners. The first-place prize of $1,000 was awarded to first-year student Miranda Hoover of Schaumburg, Ill. The second-place prize of $250 went to senior Amanda Kutz of Cincinnati, and the third-place prize of a $100 certificate for the campus bookstore, Barnes & Noble, went to Columbus resident, Erin Weiss, Class of 2005. The final two prizes of $50 food certificates, good for campus fare, were awarded to seniors Todd Dillon from St. Louis, Mo., and Cereescia Sandoval from Springfield.
"We wanted a way to reinforce the smoke-free policy on campus and change the social climate to make non-smoking acceptable," said Mary Jo Groves, M.D., university physician for Wittenberg. "We felt the best way to do this might be involving the students in the message, and we were thrilled to receive 57 entries in the poster-design contest."
Groves has recently distributed a tobacco survey to students for the purpose of gathering statistics, which could be submitted for publication in a medical journal.
Hoover's winning design featured the following caption: What if every three days our country faced the tragedy of the September 11th terrorist attacks? Beneath the caption, images of the terrorist attack of the World Trade Center were displayed and the answer to her question was "We do." She went on to cite statistics about the number of lives lost on that tragic September day and compared those numbers to those who die as a result of smoking. A final caption urges people to "stop smoking and get your friends to stop smoking, before we have more bodies to identify."
Second-place winner Kutz said that she spent several hours combining computer-generated graphics and digital photographs of images familiar to the Wittenberg community for her winning design. The poster features a photo of the university seal and motto, "Having Light We Pass it On to Others." Beside that the poster reads, "Not the light you had in mind?'
"I'm excited to have been selected, not only for the design and the message, but because I have a law school deposit due, and the prize money matches that deposit," Kutz said. "I'm glad the messages are getting out to students and that students are taking responsibility for those messages," she added.
A portion of the works will be displayed around campus beginning April 1 in a schedule that brings in additional designs each semester. The Health Center is considering how this awareness program might be extended to high school students in the future. Because of the success of this program, Groves thinks similar contests may be designed to bring awareness to other health issues that affect the college population and beyond.
The $1,000 first prize was donated by a national pharmaceutical company, the $250 second prize came from an anonymous donor, Barnes & Noble, the campus bookstore, donated the third-place prize of $100, and the two $50 gift certificates for food were given by Sodexho Marriott.
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