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Briarcliff High School gets serious about smoking

12/30/2010 in news

BRIARCLIFF MANOR —The Great American Smokeout campaign brought its message of the dangers of smoking to Briarcliff High School recently. "We want to raise awareness for everyone i.e.faculty, staff and students - about the risks and consequences of smoking", said Alison Kersh, a counselor with Student Assistant Services, event co-sponsor.

A number of illnesses and cancers are caused from tobacco, Dr. Michael Bergstein of the ENT and Allergy Associates told the students. Many people think it is just lung cancer, he explained, before ticking off a long list of other illness, from throat, mouth and bladder cancers to emphysema and heart attacks, that are related to tobacco use.

"Once diagnosed, people stop smoking, which is good, but it is too late at that point", Bergstein said. "For those who don't smoke, don't start. For those who do smoke, kick the habit right away."

There is no turning back once a voice box has to be removed or a large tumor invades a lung, said Bergstein, an otolaryngologist.

"Ten years from now, you can't walk into my office and say you didn't know the risks", he warned. Bergstein is affiliated with Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow, Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Cortlandt and the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan.Brianna Celaj, 15, said she knows people who smoke and hopes they stop.

"I guess they just want to fit in", she said. "But it is clearly bad for you, and being an athlete, it doesn't make any sense,", added the soccer, basketball and lacrosse player.

Kathryn Bailey, 16, said her grandmother started smoking at 13 and later in life got emphysema. "(Smoking) is something you don't want to do", she said. "Some think it looks cool, but it doesn't , especially when you know what could happen."

Kristen Welton, community mission manager at the American Cancer Society, said the Smokeout was a good day to promise to stop smoking or say you will never take up the habit. She told the students to be wary of advertising that targets them. Many ads feature attractive young people smoking, and these ads may contain suggestive slogans such as calling a long cigarette a "stiletto", a reference to the fashionable and sexy high-heeled shoes.

The Center for Disease Control notes that tobacco-related illnesses kill more people than car crashes, AIDS, suicide, homicide and illicit drug use combined. One in five deaths in the U.S. is tobacco-related.

Some sobering statistics on tobacco-related deaths from the American Cancer Society:

  • 443,000 people die each year,
  • 1,200 people die every day,
  • 25,000 people die each year in the tri-state region.

Welton offered these tips for quitting, known as the four D's: drink water, delay the urge to smoke as long as possible, do something else as a distraction, and breathe deeply to ease the desire.

Smokeout Contest

ENT and Allergy Associates and the American Cancer Society are sponsoring the Great American Smokeout Print Advertisement Contest. Create an 8 1/2-by-11-inch print ad about the dangers of smoking or inspiration for quitting. You can draw, paint or use computer graphics. Submit the ad in print or electronic form to your school administrator, who will submit it by the Feb. 1 deadline to ENT and Allergy Associates. The winner and the school get $1,000 each

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