Never too late to quit or too early to inform about tobacco

My name is Chia Lee. I am a recent graduate of Lakeshore Technical College. Earlier this year, I accepted a spring internship with re:TH!NK, the Lakeshore Tobacco Prevention network, a partner of Healthiest Manitowoc County.

I have learned a lot about how the marketing tactics used by the tobacco industry target youth. Prior to this internship, it had not crossed my mind to talk with my children about tobacco use because I felt they were too

young. I’ve realized the importance of teaching my own children at an early age about the risks of tobacco use. I began smoking at a very young age. I don’t remember anyone talking to me about the health risks related to smoking. Some of my siblings also smoked, so I thought, “If they do it, I can too.” In hindsight, I see the importance of tobacco prevention.

During my internship, I created a tobacco prevention game (Plinko) to share with a third-grade class during National Prevention Week. I was amazed at how much these third graders already knew about tobacco and how attentive they were during the presentation. Students shared many stories, a lot of them about close family members who smoke cigarettes. My eyes are open. My children are concerned about my choice to smoke. I have yet to fully quit smoking, but I have cut back. I understand tobacco is addictive, but with determination and consistent effort, I believe I will become smoke-free someday and be that example for my children to follow.

If you want to quit smoking or know someone who does, please call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free help. You can also contact your local office of American Lung Association or American Cancer Society. Talk to your physician or sign up for a stop-smoking course. It’s never too late to quit!

Chia Lee is the spring 2017 intern at Re:TH!NK, the Lakeshore Tobacco Prevention Network.