Smokeout promotes smoke-free lifestyle

Merritt Holloway, Reporter

Bakersfield College’s Mentoring and Peer Services, and the Student Health and Wellness Center will host the 37th annual Great American Smokeout on Nov. 15, said Richard Heath, the Student Government Association treasurer and lead MAPS mentor.

This is Heath’s second year participating in the Smokeout.

“When we did it last year it was pretty successful,” he said.

“We brought out the tombstone and the coffin, and we had people donating cigarettes.”

This year donating your cigarettes may win you a NOOK tablet reader. You can get raffle tickets to win the NOOK by donating your cigarettes, or watching some of the cigarette educational screenings during the Smokeout.

B-COUGH is also part of the Smokeout according to Nick Acosta, SGA general counsel and B-COUGH’s student chair. B-COUGH is coordinating with MAPS to help organize the event.

“We want to see just how we’re going to reach people and encourage them to stop smoking,” Acosta said.

“I think it’s going to be a great event. There will also be students filling out pledges to quit smoking.

“We’re going to encourage people to stop smoking in a bunch of different ways as possible, and hopefully we’ll bring awareness to the smoking issue and help them stop smoking.”

Tobacco Free Coalition of Kern County will have events in the Levan Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. discussing various topics including cigarette-butt littering, second-hand smoke and other tobacco control issues affecting Kern County residents.

Heath said Kern County Mental Health and the Student Health and Wellness Center will conduct depression screenings in the three tents that will be on the grassy area in front of the library. He is encouraging students to take advantage of it.

Tawntannisha Thompson, BC’s liaison to the dean of students and coordinator for MAPS and BC Be Fit, said that November is fight depression month. She said that last month the students were given suicide literature and some had an initial screening, and that this is just a follow up to that.

“Everything’s going to be under the tent,” Thompson said.

“There will be popcorn and cotton candy.”

BC Be Fit will be in one of the tents having a Zumba dance session to get people’s hearts pumping.

Thompson wouldn’t let on about the surprises and other things happening in the tents.

“They have to show up to find out what’s going on under the tent,” said Thompson. The coffin, the raffle, the screenings, “It’s all taking place under the tent.”

Heath said that every time MAPS set up the tables on the campus they see between 200 to 300 students. Usually two or three students take his advice.

“But you know, if we save one student then it’s worth it,” said Heath.

“We’re students just like you. We understand some of the things out there.”

He explained that MAPS personnel are trained to detect student behaviors that may seem slightly abnormal, depressed, or just need someone to talk to.

Heath said some students, in addition to school stressors, might have family, financial or other issues that can bring on anxiety or depression.

“We’re not counselors so we really can’t diagnose or anything like that,” said Heath.

“Our main thing is to be a friend more than anything and help them deal with it, and try to get them to come to the Health and Wellness Center or call the hotline.

“We’re just trying to get them help because we’re less intimidating to talk to than someone in a suit.

“We can give them that information and point them in the right direction.”

For further information visit the Activities office room CC4.

BC Be Fit meets on Wednesdays from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8:15 to 9:30 a.m. in the Fireside Room.