HATTIESBURG, MS - Every year on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation are encouraged to take part in the Great American Smokeout.
The national campaign is put on by the American Cancer Society to help people stop using tobacco.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 42 million Americans still smoke and tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death.
The University of Southern Mississippi joined colleges all over the nation to take a one day stand against tobacco.
First-year transfer student Oscar Frost has been a smoker for four years.
He used to smoke four packs a day, but now he wants to cut back.
"After I realized how bad that was talking to my parents, realizing my mom only smokes a pack every two days and I'm up to four packs a day, I knew I had to change something," Frost said. "My uncle just passed away from lung cancer."
On Thursday, the university participated in 1Day Stand. An event that encourages tobacco users on college campuses to quit for the day, in hopes that they will aim to quit for good.
"As more of these programs come and more of these programs get to colleges, it kind of reaches out and gets more people to get to know what's going into your body and what you're doing to yourself as you do it," Frost said.
The university was able to get over 300 students to take a one day stand against tobacco, by tabling at several locations.
"At the table we are giving people resources for cessation or giving them education bout how they can stop smoking and information bout the benefits of quitting smoking," Director of Wellness and Health Promotion Jodi Rider said.
The USM Student Government Association is currently working on a bill for a smoke free campus by fall 2016.
"Research shows universities that have smoke free policies have fewer smokers on their campus because it makes it harder to begin smoking," Rider said. "College is an age where people initiate smoking."
The university hopes that a one day pledge will lead to a life time commitment of no smoking.
Currently there are over 1600 campuses nationwide that are smoke free. Nine are in the state of Mississippi.
Smoke-free colleges in Mississippi:
- Blue Mountain College
- Delta State University
- Itawamba Community College
- Mississippi Delta Community College
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
- Northeast Mississippi Community College
- Northwest Mississippi Community college
- Pearl River community College
- University of Mississippi-Oxford