Rebel U at the College, local high schools and other colleges collaborated to kick off “Project 1200,” an anti-smoking demonstration, at the College last week, according to Ermal Bojdani, Rebel U president.
“I . along with other representatives from other colleges, decided to implement Project 1200 in order to educate our community members about the dangers of tobacco use,” Bojdani said.
Organized by Rebel U members at the College and members of the Society of Honor Students , Project 1200 featured 1,200 pinwheels displayed in the Alumni Grove outside the New Library to represent the number of Americans who die from tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke every day.
Students who passed by the demonstration, located on the lawn outside Brower Student Center, were typically shocked by the statistics, Bojdani said.
“We certainly had students and I had some colleagues who thought it was very eye-catching,” Joe Hadge, Alcohol & Drug Education Program leader, said.
“It created conversation and raised awareness regarding tobacco. There were certainly questions regarding how to quit and . I got to look out my window and see people definitely stopping and looking,” he said.
Though considered successful by organizers, last week’s demonstration was just the first step for the College.
Rebel U plans to hold the same event next year with minor changes, like more follow-up posters and more involvement of student works and high schools. There was also the issue of students taking pinwheels from the demonstration, according to Hadge.
“So on the last day, we had posters that said, ‘Please take a pinwheel and share it with a smoker.’ We learn as we go,” Hadge said.
“The goal of Rebel is not to judge or to scare or belittle a smoker,” he explained.
“What I see is a lot of smokers don’t want to be smokers but they are smokers. So really it’s about helping, and getting to the next step.”
Aside from minor logistical changes for next year, Rebel hopes to continue and increase efforts to educate the community about the dangers of tobacco.
According to a College press release, Rebel U’s aim is not to use scare tactics but to raise awareness of the fact that “the tobacco industry spends $231.2 million promoting its deadly product in New Jersey every year, much of which is targeted at college populations, who are legally the youngest people that tobacco companies can advertise to.”