Assembly Speaker – Dr Rebekah Short.
Dr Rebekah Short from the Whittington hospital came in to talk to our sixth form students about the disadvantages of smoking. Ultimately, she boiled it down to four main components: health, looks, smell, money.
We learnt that smoking is one of the leading causes of death in the UK. It worsens conditions like asthma whilst taking a heavy toll on our immune system, making us more vulnerable to even more common illnesses such as colds. She then went on to address some more health implications of smoking, explaining that it reduces rates of fertility and makes men more prone to erectile dysfunction. Not only was smoking an unhealthy habit for the smoker themselves, but Dr Short explained that it has negative impact for the people who inhale the second hand smoke (11 000 people a year die of secondary smoking related illnesses), which puts loved ones such as friends and family members of smokers at a health risk too. Dr Short then went on to explain that smoking shisha and cannabis are both equally harmful, as shisha is high in nicotine which makes people addicted to smoking whilst one cannabis spiff is as harmful to the human body as twenty cigarettes.
Dr Short explained to us the physiological impact smoking has on our body by explaining that it restricts the blood flow to our skin, which makes the face more saggy and causes wrinkles. In order to drive this point home, she introduced us to an app called Smoking Time Machine, which creates two images showing how one could look in ten years time as either a smoker or a non-smoker. The difference between the two images clearly illustrated the way in which smoking ages people faster, showing the effects of smoking to be stained teeth, loose facial skin and wrinkles.
She then went on to explain how the smell of cigarette smoke affects us. She explained that eventually, smokers become desensitised to the smell of cigarette smoke after being consistently exposed to it, which means that the habit gradually dulls our sense of smell and subsequently that of taste! Also, cigarette smoke is ‘a nightmare’ for people trying to keep a clean house, as cigarette smoke is immensely difficult to get out of carpets, curtains and other household furniture in general.
Not only is smoking generally bad for your body, but it takes a huge toll from our pocket. According to the website that Dr King promoted to us, Smoke Free, smoking costs approximately 250 pounds per month whilst costing society as a whole an enormous sum. The NHS spends 2 billion pounds per year treating smoking related diseases. For this reason, the NHS offers plenty of support to people quitting smoking providing free nicotine replacement therapy from your local GP.
Overall, Dr King made it abundantly clear that smoking is a habit that impairs you in every imaginable aspect of life ranging from health to social to financial. If you are curious to find out more, you can go to the App Store and download Smoking Time Machine, NHS smoke free or the NHS app. It certainly gave us lots to think about.
Max - Senior Prefect