Every eight seconds…

Online Poster

By Caroline Kim

Every eight seconds an air horn blew and a student dropped to the ground, simulating a death on the north side of the Quad Thursday. The 10-minute event was a re-enactment of an anti-smoking truth advertisement for the Great American Smokeout Week, put on by Colleges Against Cancer (CAC).

The simulation illustrated how, according to the American Cancer Society, someone in the world dies every eight seconds because of a tobacco-related illness.

Angela Hancock, sophomore in applied life studies, said the original truth commercial sponsored by the American Legacy Foundation involved a large clock in New York City. Every eight seconds that passed on the clock, a person would be handed a piece of paper with a dot on it to represent someone’s death.

Hancock said the truth simulation committee within CAC thought it would make more of an impact to simulate the deaths instead of just sharing the fact.

“We really want them to know it does affect them,” Hancock said.

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One student involved in CAC wore a life-size Marlboro cigarette box. Others held signs and people took turns shouting statistics through a bullhorn.

“Tobacco companies make a product that kills 1,200 Americans a day,” Hancock said through the bullhorn.

A few people passed out flyers entitled “The truth about smoking.” One statistic included on the sheet was that tobacco kills more Americans than AIDS, drugs, homicides, fires and auto accidents combined.

The participants that were simulating the death wore American Cancer Society shirts. Some held empty cigarette boxes and magazine tobacco advertisements while they waited to be tapped on the shoulder to prompt their simulated death.

One participant, Jessie Creamean, sophomore in LAS, said she saw the simulation last year and thought it would be fun to do it this year.

“I think they’ll listen. It’ll catch people’s attention,” Creamean said.

David Escobar, freshman in LAS, said he received the e-mail about being a participant through the CAC mailing list.

“I like truth ads and I thought it’d be a good idea to participate in a real one,” Escobar said. “We read about the statistics but don’t visualize them. Something like this really helps bring it home.”

Matt Bain, sophomore in engineering, watched on the side while his girlfriend participated in the simulation. He said he started smoking during his sophomore or junior year in high school and quit about six months to a year ago.

“When you listen to the statistics, it makes it seem more stupid,” Bain said.

By 1 p.m. about 100 people laid on the ground, blocking traffic on the sidewalk.

Celina Petersen, junior in LAS, said she is allergic to smoke, so it is a personal issue to her.

“It’s funny that some people are walking by smoking,” Petersen said during the event.

She said the simulation is great and thought it built awareness.

“I think just doing this on a large scale where people are blocking the path make people look and wonder what it’s about and listen and think about the message that’s being conveyed,” Petersen said.

Hilary Wells from the American Cancer Society said the simulation was very powerful and moving.

“A visual of everybody laying here on the Quad makes it more real and easier to understand,” Wells said.