The University of Alabama

UA’s Eta Sigma Gamma Highlights Dangers of Secondhand Smoke in ‘Flash Mob’ Event

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Smoking kills.

These two words carry a powerful message that students in The University of Alabama’s health education honor society Eta Sigma Gamma hope to get across.

Research has proven time and again that smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. But it is not just the smoker who is impacted – it is also those around him. About 135 people die each day in the United States from exposure to secondhand smoke, said Jamie Schumacker, a UA graduate assistant and president of Eta Sigma Gamma’s Delta Xi chapter.

The organization decided to use the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout to raise awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke in a vivid, and somewhat shocking, way. On Thursday, Nov. 21, about 135 students will converge on the Quad at UA and simultaneously drop to the ground, falling “dead.” The idea originated from a video that the Truth campaign made.

“The impact of seeing all these people falling dead will help witnesses visualize the actual effects that are caused every single day by exposure to secondhand smoke,” Schumacker said.

According to the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke is responsible for an estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease in current nonsmokers, about 3,400 lung cancer deaths in nonsmoking adults, worse asthma and asthma-related problems in up to 1 million asthmatic children and between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in children under 18 months of age. The cost of extra medical care, illness and death caused by secondhand smoke is over $10 billion each year.

With a mission of teaching, serving and researching health, Eta Sigma Gamma’s members thought the “flash mob” event would be a perfect way to teach UA’s student body about the health risks and dangers associated with exposure to secondhand smoke, Schumacker said.

The event will take place between 12:15 and 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, on the Quad near Denny Chimes.

“Eta Sigma Gamma hopes that by bringing awareness to the student body, more people will know about the risks associated with secondhand smoke and that smokers will want to quit,” Schumacker said.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.