I used to live at the Quarry – it was like a native reserve – and what started me off smoking, we had open fires outside the camps and my grandma used to always do rollies, roll the tobacco cigarettes. She would say come and light my cigarette, so I’d go over to the fire and I’d light it on the coals and I’d have a quick few draws before I get back to her and that’s what really started it.
And then as I grew up to be a woman I sort of had to have a cigarette every morning I got up before I had a cup of tea, I couldn’t do without it. When I didn’t have a cigarette I’d cadge others for a smoke, I’d even got to a stage where I would pick up bumpers. Even when we were young we picked up a lot of bumpers for our family. I’d be asked to go down the street and pick some bumpers up, cos we were kids.
My mum used to smoke a pipe. She used to smoke that tobacco called Dark Havelock tobacco, which is really strong. I did try it one day it just about knocked me out and I wouldn’t have it again. Actually I didn’t like anything about it was just something that I just had to have, everyday I just had to have a cigarette, and if I didn’t have it I craved for a cigarette, get upset, till you have a cigarette and then it calms you down and feel better.
What put me off the smoking in the late 90’s I looked after my brother, he had lung cancer and he had half his lung taken off. I cared for him for 8 years. Before he died, he had emphysema and he had to live on an oxygen tank and I couldn’t really leave him alone much. I saw him suffer every day and it was very hard for him to do anything. Silver Chain used to have to come out and shower him and stuff like that. He struggled with it. Couldn’t go anywhere, had to just take him outside and sit down in the cool. He would always had to have the cylinder full with gas otherwise he used to panic if it wasn’t. After about 8 years he sort of couldn’t go on no more and he passed on. Very sad for me because I was very close to him. Also I had another younger brother who died of lung cancer.
About 6 months after my brother passed on I felt a bit of a chest infection and I went to the doctor and the doctor said to me, "Dorothy when you walk through that door don’t ever touch another cigarette because you have a touch of emphysema." So when I walked through the surgery door I didn’t touch another cigarette and that was 14 years ago now. What helped me a lot, I didn’t haven’t any patches or anything, I just sucked lollies to replace the cigarettes and I tell all my family not to smoke cos of the damage it can do, it causes disease, lung disease.
To me its now just really a filthy habit, just a habit that you’ve done. Like everybody’s smoked and you just didn’t really care about that you smoked in the house, you didn’t care about that you just smoked, had to have a cigarette everyday was life. When I get in the car to drive the car put a lolly in my mouth and suck that. One of my children used to go the country and work and every morning he used to pull in the shop garage and on the way home he used to bring me some menthol to suck the lollies to help me.
And I have got a son that smokes and two daughters and I tell them not to smoke, my eldest son is 47 this year I think, and he has never touched a cigarette and I am very proud of that. I tell them not to smoke, the grandchildren, I try to explain to them about the damage cigarettes does. Some of my children and my grandchildren have seen my brother when I was looking after him and how he suffered through smoking. I’d just like to say to all the smokers please give it up, its for your own health, for your own good. I smoked when I was pregnant, I didn’t realise the danger then because I wasn’t told that it was a danger to the babies. So I know now that a lot of Aboriginal babies are born underweight because the mum smokes. I do tell my family not to use cigarettes. I’ve got a granddaughter, she is 27 she doesn’t smoke, she’s never touched a cigarette and a grandson too he’s 17 he doesn’t smoke but some of them do smoke and I try to tell them do not smoke.