This post is sponsored by Tobacco Free New York State. All opinions are my own.
I have always thought smoking is disgusting. I remember sitting in the back of a limo on the way to a bar mitzvah in middle school and watching one of my classmates pull a pack of cigarettes out of her sequined purse, as if she was the coolest thing since roll-on body glitter. She lit one, cracking the window and puffing outside while giggling like a fiend and no doubt feeling like a total bad ass. She passed it around and some of our friends took a puff, while others pretended to look through her as if they had no idea what was happening.
I was one of the latter.
The idea of inhaling poisonous fumes combined with the amount of trouble I would get into if I was caught was way too much for me. I would have been happy to melt right into the slippery leather seats.
Fast forward twenty years and my on-the-cusp of middle school offspring bounds through the front door after school, assaulting me with an endless flow of thoughts that have been stored away since she got on the bus that morning.
“And, ew, in D.A.R.E. today, we saw what a person’s lungs look like when you smoke and it is disgusting. Why would anyone even do that if they know how bad it is? Oh, oh, and guess what? At lunch today…”
As she continued, I breathed a tiny little sigh of relief. A rule follower like her mother, my oldest has no interest in doing things that fall into the “wrong” category in her brain. That’s one thing I can cross off my To Be Worried About list. Her sister on the other hand…
My fear with my little one is that she is a pleasure seeker. While sometimes this is an awesome quality—it allows her to stop and smell every flower and savor every last lick of ice cream (tight schedules and messy shirts be damned)—it also means that she will jump wholeheartedly into something if it seems like it might be enjoyable. Whether or not I say it’s wrong or unhealthy doesn’t matter. If there might be some pleasure found there, she wants to try it—and the tobacco industry makes smoking look like a pleasure that only the coolest of people enjoy.
In fact, they spend billions of dollars every year on promotions in places where children can see them. “Tobacco industry marketing has appealed to youth for decades, with billions of dollars spent on bright, bold, strategically placed promotions,” said Michael Seilback from the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “These promotions catch the attention of children and encourage them to use dangerous and addictive tobacco products. Whether you’re a parent or not, smoker or non-smoker, we can all agree that the influence of tobacco promotions on some of society’s most impressionable and vulnerable members is outrageous. It’s our responsibility as a community to protect our children from tobacco promotions and put an end to this pediatric epidemic.”
Enough is enough. The last thing I need is my daughter seeing an ad that portrays smoking as cool or glamorous. That image will stick with her and impact her choices when she’s the one being offered a cigarette by a classmate one day.
Tobacco Free New York State agrees that pro-tobacco marketing needs to stop. Their “Seen Enough Tobacco” campaign uses video, social media (#SeenEnoughTobacco), digital advertising, and a storybook that describes children’s encounters with tobacco promotions in convenience stores.
Learn what you can do to protect children from tobacco promotions and join more than 25,000 New Yorkers by pledging your support at the campaign’s website.
If we take action today, maybe we can stop impressionable young pleasure seekers like my daughter from thinking there is anything remotely cool or enjoyable about sucking in noxious fumes for fun. Because, knowing what I do about cigarettes and the harm they can cause, I really don’t want her to be the girl with the cigarettes stuffed in her sequined purse.