By Katherine Terrell | LSU Student
Kicking butts and taking names.
That's the idea behind SmokingWords, which is "a movement for tobacco-free living." The group, which aims to educate students and faculty about smoking, made its presence known at LSU's 29th Annual Health & Wellness Fair for the ninth straight year.
SmokingWords was one of many tables at the fair, which was held in the Student Union from 9 a.m. to 3p.m. Other booths offered free health screenings, HIV/Aids testing, BMI calculation and vision and hearing testing.
The fair coincided with "Kick Butts Day"—a national day of activism against tobacco companies nationwide.
SmokingWords took a different approach: displaying everything from cigarette butts to a Darth Vader helmet to draw students' attention.
"The force didn't make me sound like this…smoking did!" a sign below the helmet read.
The idea for the items came from PlanIt Public Relations—a student public relations campaign group. LSU senior public relations students Ali Manion and Grace Weber said they partnered with Judith Sylvester, an associate professor at the LSU Manship School, to promote SmokingWords.
"We're just trying to create a following," Manion said.
Sylvester said this year is the first time it has had such an involved group of students. In addition to hosting a table, PlanIt Public Relations also used Facebook and Twitter to get its message out.
Sylvester created SmokingWords in 2000 and has been actively campaigning for a smoke-free campus. She said she has conducted a number of research projects and surveys over the years, estimating that more than 7,000 people smoke daily on LSU's campus.
Cigarette litter and dangers of secondhand smoke are two of her biggest concerns.
"I understand there are major difficulties," she said of the initiative. "But … it's a health and safety issue."
Sylvester said she isn't trying to take away anyone's smoking rights, but has a problem with the amount of cigarette butts left on the ground. She pointed to a Ziploc bag full of cigarette butts, noting that they had been gathered from the area around the Manship School alone.