Dr. Blacklung, I Presume? (Introduction)

(by slimv2001@yahoo.com, 11 July 2004)

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Dr. Blacklung, I Presume
By:  slimv

This tale was inspired by a visit to nicotinevictims.com, a must see for all
you dark siders out there.

The story is based on a guilt-ridden letter from a mom who posts it on the
victim's site.


I'm a mom who smokes and I can personally testify to the addictiveness of
tobacco.  I will die hopelessly addicted never having done my part to end
this tragedy.  But this isn't about me.  This is about my daughter and how
proud I am of her for doing her part.

Katie is 16 years old.  She has gorgeous long blond hair and a model's face
and body.  She's intelligent, popular and friendly.  But most of all she is
compassionate and cares more about others than she does for her self.

My beautiful daughter suffers from emphysema, courtesy of Benson & Hedges.
It's my fault because I was her role model.  She wanted to smoke like her
mom.  She started when she was 8.  She came to me at 10, not asking for
permission to smoke but asking for help to quit.  

The two of us tried in vain for the next three years.  No cure was stronger
than our addiction.  Our doctor concluded we had tried our best and only a
miracle or death would end our addiction.  

At the tender age of 16, my daughter has smoked half her life.  Her doctor
tells us she will probably not live to see her 30th birthday.

Despite emphysema, she still smokes two packs of cigarettes a day and three
packs on the weekends.  What began as a choice became an all-powerful
addiction.  Like me, she is completely dependent on cigarettes and incapable
of functioning without them.  I buy cigarettes for her because the pain of
not smoking is greater than the pain of smoking.  Though it is true she
enjoys smoking, the pleasure she receives is riddled with guilt.

Because she is attractive and popular, she is like a walking billboard for
tobacco companies that encourage teen smoking.  She can't help but make it
look glamorous and appealing.  But rather than be a pawn in tobacco's ploy to
lure teens through bad example, she has put her addiction to a noble use in a
teen mentoring program in her school called "Peer to Peer" where she is the
president of her school's chapter. 

The idea behind the project is that young children (4th & 5th grade) will
take advice better from kids a little older than them and the message strikes
with more impact when delivered by children not much older than them who are
already addicted.  

The school's peer mentors don't tell younger kids not to smoke. They tell
them to make up their own minds. But they do tell them about the tobacco
industry. They show them documents in which tobacco industry representatives
call teenage smokers "illogical, irrational and stupid." 

My daughter travels to elementary schools and speaks to the younger children
truthfully about her experience and addiction to cigarettes.  She begins each
lecture by telling the classe s how young she was when she started and how
she cannot quit and why she's come to see them.  The lectures are conducted
outside so she can smoke in front of the children.  This gives her instant
credibility.  She talks to them about her emphysema and lets them listen to
her lungs with a stethoscope while she's smoking.  It embarrasses her but she
is willing to do it if it will keep one child from following in her

I am so proud of my daughter's courage and conviction.  It was her boyfriend
that found this site and encouraged me to write about her.  He is probably
the most tolerant and supportive non-smoker I have ever known.  He loves her
and it breaks his heart to watch helplessly as she dies a little at a time
with each puff she takes.  Cigarettes will rob them of a lifetime of health
and happiness that they should be allowed to spend together.

- Katie's Mom

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