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Elizabeth Z.

My Aunt Cathy began smoking before she knew the risks. She was young and it was a time when smoking was promoted as a glamorous activity. Looking back at early magazine advertisements, especially those geared toward women, I'm shocked that they were ever allowed. "We made Virginia Slims especially for women because women are dainty and beautiful and sweet and are generally different from men," reads the advertisement with a delightfully classy woman, front and center.

My aunt was just that type of woman. Beautiful. Sweet. Dainty. She eventually came to the realization that she needed to quit. My aunt was successful and stopped smoking for a few years and focused more on her health. At that time, if she were able to request a cancer screening, they may have caught her cancer before stage 4. She passed away within month of her diagnosis.

There are many others out there that began smoking before the harmful effects were thoroughly realized. They started young and no one told them how harmful smoking could be, in fact, we made smoking desirable. We've come a long way since then, but we can't stop now. We must raise the smoking age, increase the tax on all tobacco products, and expand the parameters of lung cancer screenings.

First published: January 30, 2017

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