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What our Pacific kids think about smoking

shared by {stories_author} (08 December, 2015)

Auckland schoolgirl Leilani Ginnen says it makes her feel sad when she sees adults smoking around their children.

“Kids don’t like it when their parents smoke. It smells bad and when you breathe it in it feels like you’re taking part in the smoking.”

Leilani, an 11-year-old from Kowhai Intermediate School, bravely shared her views on smoking for our powerful smokefree video (see World Smokefree Day video).

She jumped at the opportunity when asked to star in the video. “I was really excited and keen to do it because I have quite a lot of my family members that smoke and most of them have children and it affects them.”

 According to Census data, about six out of every 10 New Zealand children live in households where tobacco is smoked by an adult. 

When Leilani and her cousins are exposed to second-hand smoke, they move away to avoid breathing it in, she explains.

Leilani says her dad used to smoke but is now strongly against it. “I’ve been taught well about not smoking, both at school and at home. Smoking can give you bad teeth and I heard it gives you lung cancer, which makes me think about death.”

But some of her uncles smoke and she often tries to get them to quit. “I don’t want to hurt them though so I just give hints.” She’s well aware that smoking is highly addictive and says it’s like “sugar for children”.

We asked Leilani what she’d say if someone offered her a smoke.

“No thanks – I’m only 11,” she replied. “If I was older, I’d still say ‘no’ because I know all about what it will do to me and that it will make me look bad. I know we’re not supposed to judge but people do judge when they see someone smoking.”

Remember, deciding to stop smoking is the best decision you can make for your health and the health of your loved ones – including your kids.