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Resident Forum
October 7, 1998

Residents Make a Difference in the Fight Against Tobacco

Author Affiliations

Prepared by Gloria Robertson, Department of Resident Physician Services, American Medical Association.

JAMA. 1998;280(13):1136. doi:10.1001/jama.280.13.1136

A vital part of being a physician is reaching out to the surrounding community and making it a better place in which to live. Resident physicians from across the country were given the opportunity to put this into practice by participating in an antismoking essay contest for children and young teens sponsored by the American Medical Association Resident Physicians Section (AMA-RPS) and the AMA Foundation (formerly the Education and Research Foundation). The essay contest, "Smoking Is Not for Me!" gave residents the opportunity to educate their communities about the dangers of smoking and to make a difference in the health of their patients.

In conjunction with the essay contest, residents made presentations at nearly 100 elementary and middle schools. During the presentations, students were able to see firsthand the damaging effects that smoking has on the body. Students were given the opportunity to inspect an actual diseased lung, which had belonged to a smoker who died of lung cancer. The facts about smoking now took on new meaning as students discovered, through the use of a peak flow meter, how laborious it would be to breathe with obstructive lung disease. After these vivid demonstrations, the students were excited about participating in the essay contest to help discourage their peers from starting the addictive habit of smoking.

Residents from across the country judged more than 8600 entries on the basis of their style, creativity, content, and clarity. Winners were selected on both the state and national level. Through a generous grant of $5000 from the AMA Foundation, we awarded $100 saving bonds to 4 national finalists and 40 state winners.

The grand prize was awarded to Michael Korizis, a seventh grader at St Bede the Venerable School in Richboro, Pa. Michael won a $500 savings bond and trip to Chicago, Ill, for himself and 1 parent to read his poem before the AMA-RPS Assembly.

Here is Michael's poem:

Why Smoking Is Not For Me!

Smoking is not for me,
I always knew it would never be.
I would like to live a long life
and have children and a wife!

Chewing tobacco can ruin your jaw,
Under age smoking is against the law.
Smoking cigarettes is very expensive,
and some people find it quite offensive!

Drinking, smoking and sniffing,
The consequences are all the same.
Damaging your liver or heart
or what is left of your rotted brain!

When I grow up and have children,
I hope they will feel the same way.
I hope they won't smoke at all,
Never mind three packs a day!

I always used to wonder,
about kids who used to smoke,
If they care about their health,
or thought the outcome was just a joke!

So take a look around you,
What do you see?
People smoking everywhere,
Is that who you want to be?

I know someone who used to smoke,
I never liked being around that folk.
Smoke from cigarettes gives me a
bloody nose,
and I can smell smoke on a smoker's clothes!

Pay attention, and listen close,
I have one thing to say, don't start smoking,
Anytime, anyplace, or any day.—Michael Korizis

As we work toward the AMA's goal of a smoke-free society by the year 2000, we hope that our educational efforts will continue to discourage youth from smoking. In the upcoming year, the AMA-RPS will continue its fight against youth tobacco use by sponsoring a national poster contest entitled "No Ifs, Ands, or BUTTS!—No Smoking." Once again, we encourage sixth to eighth graders from across the country to put on their thinking caps and design a poster warning their peers that smoking is dangerous. For more information about the "No Ifs, Ands, or BUTTS!—No Smoking" contest, contact the Department of Resident Physician Services at (312) 464-4751 or by e-mail at gloria_robertson@ama-assn.org.