“Hi I’m Karen, I am a 52 year old woman who
has been smoking since about 20 years old.
I became addicted, smoked on average for 6
minutes per cigarette, around 10-12 times a day,
could not stop, and now brings me here, trying to
survive the living hell that smoking causes.
6 years ago I was diagnosed with emphysema
and urinary incontinence which therefore leaves
me housebound, and unable to walk only a few
metres before becoming extremely exhausted.
The embarrassment is un-explainable and smoking
has ruined my life.
The cancer which I developed after all these years
of smoking has left me to survive trauma and damage
during and after treatments; allowing me to never
speak again, swallow or function normally.
Many people, like me have to experience getting tubes
shoved in their stomach for the rest of their lives in order
to receive the food and water to keep them alive.
Due to the multiple reconstruction and treatments to try
to remove the cancer, I am left with almost my entire tongue
gone, lower jaw, gums and teeth permanently removed.
My life, along with 55% of women who smoke regularly has
been destroyed by this cancer.”
Hearing Karen’s story, only being one out of the thousands
of lives destroyed due to smoking has encouraged me to speak
up and make you aware of how traumatic and awful the effects
of smoking has on humans and our bodies, encouraging a
solution to this problem.
The smoking age needs to be raised to 21 years old,
therefore guaranteeing that smoking and other tobacco
rates among youth will reduced, and save lives.
Similarly to the concept of penalties with alcohol, I would love
to see the same approach with under age smoking.
For example, throughout the years, the government has put
forward that not only is the offender of the crime charged, but
the parents or provider of the alcohol is also charged.
Therefore, replicating this similar approach, will ensure
that smoking underage will eventually decrease because
Data across the world shows that around 95% of adults who
smoke today, started smoking before the age of 21. Therefore,
if smoking becomes illegal before this age, an individual is
more unlikely to pick up a cigarette after 21.
Tobacco smoke contains more then 7,000 chemicals in
each cigarette and can harm nearly every single organ
in the body. 70 of the 7,000 chemicals are known to cause
cancer depending on an individuals daily intake of tobacco
and how long they have been smoking for.
It is estimated that in Australia, 80% of lung cancer is
accompanied by the use of tobacco smoke.
I am extremely passionate about a topic such as this as
“tobacco smoking is one of the largest preventable causes
of death and disease in Australia”, and if someone like
me, just a kid, can even make one person AWARE of the
damage and death in which smoking causes, we could
make an end to one Australian passing away every
28 minutes due to smoking or the 15,000 deaths per year.
Not only is there physical damage to the body
due to smoking, but smoking causes mental trauma as
well through establishing an addiction. Once
addicted, most people can not stop.
For a young person to have to go through the emotions
and psychological stress that smoking can cause due to
either wanting to quit and can’t or, quitting but then
experience cravings, anxiety, restless sleep, eating more
or headaches leads to serious consequence, such as
depression and suicide. Studies show that 75% of smokers
have tried and want to quit smoking, however, the addiction
is too great, that they just can not.
In addition, studies have shown that the total cost of smoking
in Australia to society to deal with the disease it causes is
$31.5 billion each year – related to the mental illness hospitals
and regular doctors and hospitals.
Im a teenager myself, and yes, although I have never
taken part in it, I have been introduced to smoking and
has been offered many cigarettes only in my 16 years on
this earth. We are all too young to be taking part in smoking
regularly or becoming addicted, let alone even try it! And do
you know how horrible
it is to see that smoking around 16-17 year olds has become a
‘social event’ and such a normal thing. If the smoking age was
raised to 21 years old, with tough penalties for kids and their
parents, this wouldn’t happen and the horrible habit of
smoking being a ‘social thing’ would be out of the question.
Just imagine, if you try it at a party, you kind of like it, you
try it once more and then your addicted for life. Wouldn’t you
want to wish you didn’t try smoking at that 17th birthday party?
…”A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths a statistic.
And in tobacco control, there are statistics to die for”