I come from the Wheatbelt area, I grew up around that area in the country. Most of my childhood was spent living on a native reserve, just out of Kellerberrin, my family lived there and also a lot of other Noongar families. Most of my family smoked and many of the other people around me so I thought it was just the natural thing to do. I understand now that it's really bad for your health and I guess I didn’t become aware until later in life, because as young people growing up, we didn’t have a lot of the things like the advertisements and the health service providers telling us how it ruins your health and things like that.

I guess my first experience, I didn’t like it. Sort of like most people I suppose I choked on the first cigarette. But because of people around you and all the advertisements, the pretty packaging they came in, and whenever we went to movies we would always see the people smoking there, this was a big influence on my life. I tried it a couple of times and I suppose got used to the taste and smoked for 30 years. I liked the smell of it when I was smoking, the main thing was it relaxed you when you were going through difficult times and a bit stressed out. At that time there was nothing I didn’t like about smoking because it was a big part of my life, but later on in life through experiences with my family members there are a lot of things I don’t like now and a lot of things I’m aware of.

It damages your health. I think you have to experience something like that and it damaged my health. I now have a chronic illness of high blood pressure. Two of my brothers died of cancer, one died of lung cancer and the other died of throat cancer. It was only going through the sad times of losing them that made me realise how bad it was. But also my husband, he was only 53 when he passed away. He was a diabetic, he had kidney failure which smoking contributed to that. He was told by the doctors not to smoke, but a lot of us don’t take notice of what our doctors are telling us or other health professionals.

I was away from home a lot because I travelled around with my husband wherever he went to work so I missed being with my family and the cigarettes was my company I guess. Really weird now I try to encourage others to not even take on before they even start. The fact of that really was realising that all the damage done to my families health, losing my husband, also trying to protect my children and my grandchildren. I’ve also got a big mob of great grandchildren and I hope they never ever take on smoking, because even though they don’t understand all the damage it can do to you now, they won’t know this until it’s too late.

I recently saw a commercial on TV that said with throat cancer they don’t know until it’s too late. I know I will never smoke again I wouldn’t want to smoke again. A lot of people don’t know this and I guess it’s getting the message out there to people to get them to really understand all the damage that can be done through smoking. I had 4 children and at the time I didn’t actually know with my smoking it contributing to the low birth weights when they were born, but I only understand that now after being made aware of all these implications that happen when you are pregnant and smoking. I guess I’d just like to say that it definitely wasn’t an easy thing to do, I made several attempts and it's all about getting the nicotine out of your body so if people can work through that, also the knowledge from the health information on what damage it does. I guess that’s the main thing in not taking it on the first place so you don’t have to give up because it is definitely hard, because I know a lot of people who have tried and had many attempts like myself but I’m just glad that I did actually give it up.

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