Break the Habit: AUC Clinic, Parents Association Launch Anti-Smoking Campaign

The Break the Habit anti-smoking campaign, recently launched as a joint effort between the Parents Association and the AUC clinic, aims to raise awareness about the countless negative effects of smoking on both smokers and those around them through secondhand smoke.

Officially launched on April 2, the initiative uses posters, informative quotes, articles on social media, interactive booths and more to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking, such as lung or larynx cancer, decreased fertility, bronchial asthma, heart disease and more.

As noted by Dr. Mohamed Amin, head of the Office of Medical Services, there has recently been an increase in the number of smokers on campus, so this campaign comes at a critical time. “At AUC, we care for the students not only academically, but in every perspective,” he said. “So when we see a habit that is imposing danger on our community, we have to step in. I believe this campaign is that much more important because of the popularity of smoking”

Regarding the name of the campaign, Dr. Amin stated that “breaking the habit is the most important step in ending any bad habit. Change has to be abrupt and not gradual. Smokers have to wake up in the morning and decide to simply break the habit. That's what our campaign stands for.”

After meeting with Dr. Amin and learning about the dangers of smoking and its popularity on campus, the Parents Association decided they, too, needed to intervene. “Break the Habit is so important to parents, as it directly affects the health and welfare of our sons and daughters,” said Aliaa Abdel Ghaffar, head of AUC’s Parents Association.

Abdel Ghaffar also explained that in order to understand more about why students “accept smoking as a fact of life,” they have worked through a market research course to conduct research on how students first begin smoking, what triggers them to smoke on campus and what will make them stop or think about quitting.

Specifically, Abdel Ghaffar emphasized that the Parents Association strives to increase the awareness and attendance of the anti-smoking clinic on campus, which helps the AUC community quit smoking through psychological help and beyond. The Parents Association also hopes to educate parents on the harmful effect of smoking through lectures that they plan to have with Dr Amin. As Abdel Ghaffar noted, “this will create a coherent environment centered on the goal of having students reject smoking. We also plan to have parents volunteer to help us in all our activities, thus increasing the involvement of parents.”

This initiative is not without challenges, however. “The greatest challenge is to convince smokers, especially students, who are our main concern on campus, of the effectiveness of the program,” said Dr. Amin. As a way of encouraging students and other community members to join the anti-smoking clinic, there is a 25 percent discount on medicine.

Moving forward, Abdel Ghaffar hopes to “re-educate the AUC community on the policy that smoking is only permitted six meters away from any building and in open-air areas, as well as having a penalty for anyone who smokes in restricted areas on campus.”