Meet Smokey Sue

Earlier this week my friend, Sharon Klees, RN, and I introduced Smokey Sue to the fifth, sixth, and seventh graders at St. Francis International School in Silver Spring, Maryland. Smokey Sue is a doll who smokes cigarettes. We started with a classroom presentation about the risks of smoking, its highly addictive properties, and its status as the number one cause of preventable death and illness in the US. We then moved outside to watch while Smokey Sue smoked her cigarette. After only one cigarette, the stinky yellow-brown tar that she had inhaled was clearly visible in her transparent test-tube body. The students learned that average smokers inhale one cup of  tar into their lungs each year. They had excellent questions about tobacco and its risks, but also about marijuana use, which evidently is not rare in their environment. We talked a lot about why teenagers start smoking and what strategies they could use to avoid this. Smoking cessation was another topic of interest. 1-800-QUIT-NOW is the phone number for the NIH help line. Several students were planning to try to get help for their family members who smoked.


THE SHOCKING FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SMOKING

  • IN THE US 1 OF EVERY 3 CANCER DEATHS IS CAUSED BY SMOKING

  • NEARLY 20% OF ALL DEATHS IN THE US ARE FROM TOBACCO.

  • NEARLY 1/2 MILLION PEOPLE DIE EACH YEAR IN THE US OF SMOKING RELATED CAUSES

  • 80% OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE IN THOSE LESS THAN 55 YRS OLD IS CAUSED BY SMOKING

  • THERE ARE MORE THAN 4000 CHEMICALS IN TOBACCO SMOKE, INCLUDING FORMALDEHYDE, CYANIDE, LEAD, CARBON MONOXIDE, ACETONE....

  • NICOTINE, THE ADDICTING CHEMICAL IN TOBACCO AND IN E-CIGARETTES, IS JUST AS ADDICTING AS COCAINE AND HEROIN

  • E-CIGARETTES, NICOTINE DELIVERY GAGDETS, ARE HEAVILY MARKETED TO YOUTH.

Sharon Klees RN, Donna Chacko MD, and Smokey Sue. Sharon and Donna are members of the Health Ministry of St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Sharon Klees RN, Donna Chacko MD, and Smokey Sue. Sharon and Donna are members of the Health Ministry of St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Sharon Klees RN and the Mr. Wroblewski's science students at St. Francis International School, Silver Spring, Maryland, May 16, 2017.

Sharon Klees RN and the Mr. Wroblewski's science students at St. Francis International School, Silver Spring, Maryland, May 16, 2017.

SUGGESTIONS

  • Memorize and pass on the phone number for the quit smoking help line: 1-800-QUIT-NOW

  • Remember the above statistics about the risks of cigarette smoking. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death and illness in the US.

  • What can you do? If you smoke you can quit. Get help with the help line, a smoking cessation group at a local clinic or hospital, or a consultation with your doctor. Teens whose parent(s) smoke have double the chance of becoming smokers themselves. Be aware of local laws about protecting indoor air and the sale of tobacco, e-cigarettes, and marijuana.

  • We all need to pray that we or our children don't start smoking, that we are able to quit if we do smoke, and for strength and wisdom to combat the power of the tobacco industry to influence our behavior.

When I think of the tragedy of cigarette smoking, I see the faces of all the patients I treated for cancer during the first 20 years of my career. I remember so many wonderful people who  suffered greatly---and it all could have been avoided. They had cancers of the lung, voice box, tongue, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, cervix, and more. I offer this blog in their memory. God bless you all. Donna