I was recently looking at old pictures from when I was a kid and there is something I noticed in many of them, the presence of cigarettes. My grandparents smoked, aunts and uncles smoked, my parents even did. I can’t really fault them for it now because they were all products of eras when smoking was so prevalent and ubiquitous it was rare to see anyone without a cigarette hanging off their lip or wedged between their fingers.
I vividly remember the smell of cigarette smoke clinging to our hair and clothes when we visited our grandparents’ house. And even as an adult (before the NYC cigarette ban in bars and restaurants), I would have to wash my clothes and hair several times when I got home or everything would reek of smoke. Sure, I did my share of social smoking in my twenties, which I absolutely regret. It seems like things have dramatically changed—I mean, you certainly don’t see moms puffing away while holding their babies or pushing strollers. No one I know has a full ashtray sitting on the coffee table, but if you look closely the effort by the tobacco industry to get kids smoking (and keep adults smoking) is so clear.
When I first had Ryder I wouldn’t let anyone near him if they even smelled of smoke, let alone had a cigarette in their hand. I became a rabid anti-smoker and started to notice just how sneaky and calculated the tobacco industry was; advertising geared toward children to get them started young! It was so disgusting. Even today, the tobacco industry tries very hard to protect their bottom line, which means they are investing so much money in advertising and promotion to capture smokers at a younger and younger age.
The average age of a new smoker is 13-years-old. That statistic is even scarier when I think that Ryder is going to be nine this summer, that is four years away from 13. The Surgeon General calls smoking a “pediatric epidemic” and says, “Advertising and promotional activities by tobacco companies have been shown to cause the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescent and young adults.” The tobacco industry uses colorful, bright and bold marketing materials to appeal to kids, encouraging them to use addictive tobacco products! Tobacco addiction ruins lives—it destroys your body, impairs lung growth and development for kids and causes asthma—and in the end it will kill you.
Since becoming a mom, I have made my intolerance of cigarettes (and tobacco use) so abundantly clear to everyone, especially my kids, that I am proud to say they detest cigarettes. I couldn’t be happier about that, especially considering that the tobacco industry tries so hard to capture more life-long smokers. If they see someone smoking, they even hold their breath because they don’t even want to inhale the smoke.
My passion for a smoke-free life has led me to partner with Tobacco Free New York State to take action to protect children from tobacco promotions with the #SeenEnoughTobacco campaign. Together with Tobacco Free New York State we can keep our kids safe and smoke-free. Sign the pledge HERE because we have all #SeenEnoughTobacco!!!!