Carson High joins in Smoke Out

Dozens of Carson High School's non-smoking students swarmed around tables Thursday and signed slips to confirm it in writing.

They picked up a few freebies and glanced at models of a blackened lung and a tar-stained mouth.

Meanwhile, just off the school's campus, the usual crowd of students gathered at the east entrance to Mills Park, commonly referred to as smokers corner, for a lunch-time smoke.

It was mostly a defiant crowd at smokers corner that decided to snub the Great American Smokeout, a nationwide event sponsored by the American Cancer Society to encourage smokers to stop.

"Everyone who is usually out here is here today," Stephanie McEntire said.

McEntire said she has tried to give up, but she couldn't.

"It never works. I'm around friends who smoke, I live with parents who smoke, my friends smoke," she said. "You can't quit if you're around it. You say it's your last pack, your last cigarette, but it never works."

A smokeout wasn't a compelling reason for Mike Moore to stop smoking. Moore stopped smoking a few days earlier because he wanted to.

"I wouldn't give up for some arbitrary day, like that," he said. "I quit for my own reasons."

One of the reasons to quit was the noticeable difference in his lung capacity.

But at least 40 high school students thought Thursday was the perfect day to stop - at least for a day.

They signed a pledge and received a survival packet of goodies, including a handful of hard candy, gum, pencils and fliers warning against the evils of smoking.

Several of the students signed up with a buddy to help them make it through the day, and others signed up a family member to participate.

Student Jamie Schulenberg signed up her parents.

"I made Mom sign a contract. She wants to stop. She needs to smoke and I hid her cigarettes in my drawer," Schulenberg said.

The vast majority of students pledged to quit smoking Thursday morning, said Carol Park, an American Cancer Society volunteer and a 45-year veteran school nurse.

Park said she was proud they made the pledge, but most students came into her office looking sheepish. They knew they shouldn't be smoking, Park said.

A couple conceded they were addicted, making it tough to quit.

Santo Bruno stopped smoking for the day. He gave up earlier in the day and so far it wasn't too bad, but Thursday night would be tough because that's when he typically smokes.

"I don't smoke that much. I think I'll make it," he said.

Nisha Verma, who doesn't smoke, adopted her best friend, who declined to give her name.

"It's just for one day and she knows that smoking is bad for you," Verma said.

She planned to barrage her best friend with anti-smoking information, courtesy of the American Cancer Society, Nevada National Guard and Carson High School's student leadership class.

The National Guard is a positive role model, especially when dressed in uniform, Park said.

"They're fighting sociological battles at home in a time of world peace," Park said.

A war is how Parks described the battle against smoking.

Students start smoking because of peer pressure, they become addicted and it's a battle to quit, she said.

Standing with a group of friends in smoker's corner, Jackie, said that Thursday was the first time she had spoken to a good friend in nine days. The two had been in an ornery mood and argued.

"We got into a fight because we didn't have any cigarettes," she said.


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