Guest blog by: Karen Lewis, M.D., Medical Director of the Immunization Program Office of the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Tobacco use is the world’s leading single preventable cause of death. Every year, tobacco-related illnesses cause about 500,000 deaths in the United States. Children start smoking early. Every year, there are about 400,000 new daily smokers in this country who are younger than 18 years old. Anti-smoking campaigns in the last few decades have made some progress in reducing the number of children who smoke, but recently progress has slowed.
I wondered what else could be done to teach children about the dangers of smoking. Then I had an idea — write an antismoking fairy tale for children. I named it “The Smoke Wizard.” The story is about a cowboy named Mr. Nicotine and the Smoke Wizard who move into town and start passing out cigarettes. People who smoke fall under their spell and are dragged away by giant crabs to the dungeons. Dr. Gesundheit and two children use Magic Words in rhyme to break the spell and drive away the Smoke Wizard.
The story with color illustrations is available in either English or Spanish. The Spanish name is “El Hechicero de Humo.” The same story is also available with black and white illustrations in either English or Spanish, so children can have pictures to copy and color to reinforce the antismoking message. I invite you to read this story to your children, so that they, too, can learn the Magic Words that will drive away the Smoke Wizard!