Story by: Norton Children’s on May 23, 2017
“… It’s as if they don’t even realize how fast it is affecting their health. Life is already too short without tobacco products taking years away from the people I love…”
These words are the heartbreaking reality for a teen whose family smokes. The fact that smoking makes people die prematurely is the message a group of media students at Pleasure Ridge Park High School wanted to share after brainstorming ideas around why teens use or don’t use tobacco.
The class developed “Teens Against Tobacco,” a campaign to encourage youth to be tobacco-free. The project components were based on the conclusion that although teens are less concerned about long-term health consequences of tobacco use, they do care about birthdays, peer impressions, appearance and finances. They developed videos using original music and design to convey their messages.
In this video, the students raise awareness about how smoking will steal birthdays from your life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million Americans younger than age 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness — that’s about one out of every 13 teens.
For the students who worked on the Teens Against Tobacco project, this was not just another assignment — it was personal. Here’s what a few PRP high school students had to say:
I have been surrounded by tobacco products my whole life. I have always thought of smoking as a bad thing and it’s nice to see that people are now realizing the harmful side effects that smoking comes with. My grandma smoked for almost 30 years and stopped whenever me and my sister were born, but that did not help her case. She was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer, she started chemotherapy and it seemed it just made her worst. She has lived behind me my whole life so I went to go see her every day and did things she couldn’t do anymore, like picking weeds from the garden and planting flowers for her. She loved doing that herself, but she was getting more ill by the days so I did it for her to see her smile and be happy. A couple weeks past and the cancer had gotten way worse, she couldn’t talk and she couldn’t move. I would go over there and talk to her and hold her hand almost every day. I went over there on a weekday and something seemed off. The doctors were over there, so I rushed to her room and there she was lying down. I pulled up a chair next to her bed and held her hand, she was staring at me while I was telling her how much I loved her and then her eyes shut and I lost my grandma — the person who would watch me after school, she would bake me cookies, she would host all the Christmas parties and Easter. She held the family together and now my family is spread apart. We barely see or talk to each other. They’re like strangers. Please don’t let tobacco ruin your lives. Stop it while you can and save the people you love in your life.
My dad’s heart attack at 40 was linked to smoking, so the idea of creating an anti-smoking campaign meant more to me.
Smokers ages 13 and older can get free help by calling (800) QUIT-NOW.
Norton Healthcare also offers a no-cost, seven-week Freedom From Smoking program for ages 18 and older.
This fact might be sad but it’s very true in my case. More than 75 percent of my family and friends use tobacco products, and they know the risk but still choose to use them. The satisfaction the products bring them is more important than their health, and it’s as if they don’t even realize how fast it is affecting their health. Life is already too short without tobacco products taking years away from the people I love. My Grandpa already passed away from lung cancer after smoking for many years and I’m afraid more of my family and friends are headed down that same path. Corporations make so much profit off these products they don’t even care if they are causing people to die. I think all tobacco products should banned, so more people can live their lives to their full potentials.