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One healthy formula: MATC minus smoking plus some wellness = healthy & radiant campus

By Salena Krueger
On October 10, 2012

When approaching the grounds of MATC campuses you find lots of positive activity: happy and hardworking students, educational conversations, hallways and offices full of pursuit; however, there's also a negative activity going on...yes I am referring to the smoke clouds that surround the campuses.

Not only are students and staff on the go, the smell of burning cigarettes outside the campuses is something you may be familiar with as well. On November 1, the smoke-free campus will take effect and with this change will come another plan to make MATC campuses a healthy and cleaner environment.

I was more than delighted to come across the fact that the campus was changing to a smoke-free environment for a multitude of reasons. Smoking to me is defined in four words: harmful, addictive, unclean and expensive.

The health statistics on smoking are mind-blowing; and as a nursing student at MATC I feel it is part of my program to share the health effects that smoking causes to the human body. Nicotine dependency is problematic in our society; it is known as a stress reliever to several age groups, cultures and social statuses.

Smoking statistics alone are frightening and when reading the long list of chemicals added to cigarettes I was speechless.

The Surgeon General states, "There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When burned, they create more than 4,000 chemicals. At least 50 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous."

A few chemicals mentioned are arsenic (found in rat poison), cadmium (found in battery acid), acetone (found in nail polish remover), and formaldehyde (found in embalming fluid).  

Choosing to smoke virtually harms every organ in the body and chronic lung disease accounts for three-quarters of the smoking-related conditions.  

I think of cancer, oral and cardiovascular disease when I imagine smoking cigarettes. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States." Prevention and awareness are essential and the focus is specifically on ages 18 to 26. People in this age group have taken up habits such as chewing tobacco, cigar and hookah social smoking.

I have spoken with a great number of individuals who believe these choices are less harmful. The misconception of this topic is unfortunately at a high rate, which means awareness about these tobacco products is imperative. The use of chewing tobacco, smoking cigars or hookahs do have an effect on your health.

Maybe a debate would consist of whether or not you inhale the cigar or hookah smoke. Well according to Dr. Richard Hurt, at the Mayo Clinic, "If you inhale cigar smoke, you can get as much nicotine as if you smoked cigarettes. And even if you don't inhale, large amounts of nicotine can be absorbed through the lining of your mouth. Smoking cigars instead of cigarettes doesn't reduce your risk of nicotine dependence."

"And regarding hookah smoking, the tobacco is no less toxic in a hookah pipe, and the water in the hookah does not filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke. Hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers because of the large volume of smoke they inhale in one smoking session, which can last as long as 60 minutes." stated Dr. Hurt.

The unclean side of smoking is very obvious and apparent; it consists of a lot of smoky clothes, cigarette waste outside, cover-up mints/gum for smoker's breath, and the uncontrollable smoker's cough.
With the cold Wisconsin weather approaching, I ask you to stay warm inside with the non-smokers rather than freeze outside in the cold weather.

Not only is smoking harmful, addictive, and unclean, the expense of cigarettes alone has skyrocketed. An average pack of cigarettes is $7.15 including the Wisconsin tax, which is roughly at $2.50.

Wisconsin holds ninth place in the US for the highest tax on cigarettes and these costs will increase. I broke down the cost of a pack-a-day habit and calculated approximately how much an individual would save in a year if they decided to quit smoking-a savings of $2,610.00 a year and in 10 years you would save up to $30,000.

Just think of all the array of things you could spend that money on. An average gym membership in Milwaukee is $600 a year and a yearly all-inclusive five night beach vacation is an average of $2,500. More money in your pocket is definitely a secure feeling; however, factor in the health costs and you will save much more.

I bet everyone could name someone important in their life that has been diagnosed, is currently ill or has passed on due to a preventable disease because of choosing to smoke.

Unfortunately I grew up watching my grandfather addicted to smoking cigarettes, started when he was ten years of age. The addiction eventually led him to a disease called emphysema.  For years I watched him struggle for breaths, cough and wheeze, hoping he would take my 12-year-old advice and quit smoking.

Unfortunately his addiction ended his life 11 years later (at the age of 71). That experience definitely had an influence on my view of smoking.  

We all carry stress in our lives (good and bad stress); however, the bad stress needs an outlet so we can focus and achieve our goals as students. I asked one of my nursing instructors Ethel Davenport, R.N., to name some healthy activities you can do to relieve stress.

She responded, "I believe in music therapy, talking it out with friends and walking my stress off." I also asked Davenport "What new healthy activity do you want to get involved with?" Davenport answered, "Meditation exercises, it's been an interest for a while."   

Meditation or conscious relaxation exercises are techniques such as deep breathing, rhythmic exercise and yoga. These activities can reduce stress, build self-confidence and maintain good health.

I am not attacking the smokers on campus; I want to educate, help out and improve MATC when it comes to health. The smoke-free campus might be your first step to quit or cut down. Maybe you will consider visiting the MATC gym to work off the negative stress versus smoking on your break. I challenge you to team up, promote and choose the healthy side at MATC as well as in your personal lives.  

I have searched, tested and tried several ways to relieve the stress in my life. I have found a few I would like to share which include fitness activities and healthy choices right here in Milwaukee County:

Bikram Yoga - A unique yoga series of 26 postures designed by Bikram and proven for over 30 years to do more for your health, body and general well being. Through the consistent practice of this unique sequence of movements in a hot room you can begin to reverse the aging process and begin to remain calmer and more at ease physically, it is the perfect blend of strength, flexibility and balance,

Badgerland Striders - Wisconsin's largest running club. Established 10/1/59 and a membership of more than 1,400 running individuals and families. The club's primary purpose is the promotion and encouragement of running as a sport and as a means of healthy exercise,

Outpost Natural Foods - Outpost Natural Foods exists to promote a healthy, diverse and sustainable community.
This will be accomplished while maintaining the long-term strength of the cooperative.

The community has access to products and services that promote personal and environmental health as well as organically and locally produced goods,

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