By Brenna Everdale

Student Recreation Center             Photo by Jayaruwan Gunathilake, The Keystone
Student Recreation Center Photo by Jayaruwan Gunathilake, The Keystone

It’s a new semester and a new year, and for many of us, this means an opportunity for self-improvement. Some of the most common resolutions are to drink less, get fit and quit smoking. For the KU community, I think these goals are relevant and achievable.

For many students, drinking is simply an integral part of living at college. And in moderation, it can be a harmless and fun way to relieve stress with your friends. But I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about when I say that we have a drinking problem here at KU. Just look at the pitiful turnouts for classes on Fridays, even in the afternoons. Many accidents and criminal offenses are also fueled by alcohol. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcohol is a factor in 40 percent of all violent crimes. When students are drinking in large amounts, especially when it begins to affect academic performance or safety in town and on campus, there is a problem. We need to all consider what kinds of college cultures we are participating in, and how they are affecting us. You can still drink with your friends and have a good time without losing control of your actions or throwing your tuition down the drain.

Each semester, you spend a mandatory $133.00 for access to the Student Recreation Center. But how many students actually use the rec center on a regular basis? Considering the number of students enrolled, vs. the amount I usually see in there, my guess is that many of you aren’t using what you pay for. I know I certainly don’t go as much as I’d like to. There’s a gym, basketball courts, a rock climbing wall, smoothie bar and other features, so keeping in shape can be easy; the hard part is making time to go. Try sticking to a schedule and setting realistic goals. Even if you just go for 30 minutes per day, or an hour 3 times per week, you will look and feel healthier than if the only exercise you get now is the walks to and from classes.

Finally, let’s talk about smoking. I honestly think this is by far the worst habit I’ve seen on campus. I am not sure why so many students still smoke tobacco in 2015. According to the American Cancer Society, it’s largely due to the media. “The number of movies with tobacco-related scenes has gone down since 2005. But in 2010, more than 30 percent of top-grossing movies rated G, PG and PG-13 had tobacco scenes. The numbers of movies showing smokers started going up again in 2011 and 2012. And studies show that young people who see smoking in movies are more likely to start smoking. The 2014 Surgeon General Report stated that cutting back smoking in movies aimed at youth (from 275 exposures per year down to 10 or less) could reduce teen smoking as much as 18%.” It is also much more likely that if you’re a smoker, your parents are or were smokers as well.

Young people are very impressionable, and it’s unfortunately really hard to quit once you’ve started. But if you can’t quit for your own health, then try to quit for the sake of others. The tobacco industry knows that the younger a person starts smoking, the more likely they are to get addicted; that’s why so many movies targeting children and teens include covert product placement, despite legal efforts to limit tobacco advertising. When you buy tobacco, you are supporting an industry that preys on children and profits from a product that causes death and disease. Additionally, I cannot tell you the number of times I have been stuck behind a smoker on the walk to or from class; everyone behind you is breathing in your secondhand smoke when you do this, and that isn’t fair. If you need a crutch, there are plenty of nicotine products to help you quit that are much less damaging. Please quit this year not only for yourself, but also for those around you.

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