RT_StudentsUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham respiratory therapy (RT) students see firsthand the effects long-time smoking has on their patients. While breathing problems are the reasons students see their patients first, the students understand smoking leads to lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“Our students always mention they don’t understand why people smoke,” said Jerry King, RRT, MAEd, assistant professor and director of clinical education for the UAB Respiratory Therapy program. “If people continue to smoke, at some point in their life they will see one of our students because of breathing issues.”

While smokers may give job security to respiratory therapists, the students asked everyone to “kick butts.” The RT program and students hosted its third annual “Kick Butts Day” at Unity Park. About 40 RT students encouraged everyone to sign a pledge to either stop or to never start smoking. The students also gave out facts about what is in cigarettes, the effects smoking has on the lungs and pictures to demonstrate.

The UAB event was in conjunction with the national one hosted by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids where more than 2,000 events were held from coast to coast. For more information, visit the national website at www.kickbuttsday.org.