First in the Basic Medical Science Center, later on different University locations as well, students could discover a box depicting a lung, waiting to be filled with tobacco products. The lung is not full yet, but the guerilla marketing has drawn attention to the fact that the medical school’s credibility has to be maintained.

The idea of the boxes was formed by the Students’ Union at the beginning of the previous semester. The work and planning process had already begun, however, the concept wasn’t quite clear yet. The designers have already had 3D designs in February, but because of the newfound issues and problems regarding the organization of festivals, the project dropped far back on the list of priorities, and was never implemented.

However, the SU deemed the plans eligible for the purpose of campaigning against the harmful effects of smoking in agreement with the Basic Medical Science Center. Lately, the leadership of the Basic Medical Science Center (EOK) has taken a more vigorous stance against smoking, which was already noticeable during the course of the Summer University. For this reason, placing the boxes there seemed like the logical move to make. Since the institutions that can be found in the EOK fit almost all faculty’s educational and curricular needs, a significant number of students sees the boxes one day after the other. After the EOK, they already have plans for other university buildings as well –public spaces, such as the hall of the NET (Nagyvárad tér Theoretical Building), the bulidng of the Faculty of Health Sciences on Vas Street, or the University’s central building at 26 Üllői Street.

Even though the purpose of the boxes changed in the last half year, the baseline remained the same: targeting the students, who (don’t) want to quit smoking in a more effective and striking way. Of course, the target group is significantly bigger at a festival, but maintaining credibility is much more important regarding the students of Semmelweis University. Students attending a medical school seem more credible in the eyes of others if they take the lead in the promotion of health care, therefore, they can communicate the relevant advices in a more effective and plausible way.

We could list countless colleagues working in health care that are exemplary for many others (the personal idol of the writer of this article is a surgical resident, who, while running a marathon, provided first aid to a collapsed runner, and still managed to finish within the time limit), and we could list many others, who, with their contradictory behavior became discredited in the eyes of others. The university campaign against smoking provides an opportunity that, first of all, doesn’t look down on the people who suffer from some kind of an addiction, but at the same time supports the maintenance and recovery of their mental and physical health. 

The flashmob based on the plans of the Health Care Developmental Center, which was realized on November 21 was also in connection with this. Its goal was to pinpoint a specific date for smokers so that from then on, they could stop smoking. To replace the “I’ll quit” attitude, they decided on an exact date. “Join the thousands of people countrywise, whose “first day” of a healthier, non-smoking, nicotine-free life will be November 21” – read the event’s invite. During the flashmob students formed a beating heart, first of all, to raise their peers’ awareness regarding the cardiovascular risks of smoking.

An anonymous member of the SU pointed out the fact that they don’t expect the boxes to be filled within days with the wrappings of unused tobacco products, the initiative is much rather to create a constant display with the purpose of making the student body and the faculty realize how harmful smoking actually is.

The consensus on the harmful effects on smoking was born a few years ago, and in order to reduce smoking, many EU and Hungarian state legislations have fortified it ever since. The suggestion of János Lázár, the prime minister’s commissioner for protecting non-smokers (who also visited our university in the previous semester) to make legislative amendments regarding the reduction of smoking among minors and the protection of non-smokers is one of the more recent steps taken in this matter. The news appeared in the Hungarian press in the summer of 2019.

The University didn’t have any strategies devised for this before. The leadership of the SU trusts that the boxes will be thought-provoking, and will encourage students to quit smoking or to not even start it in the first place.