WATCH: The ugly face of a bad smoking habit
THANK God my love of smoking never extended beyond stealing someone else's ciggies.
I say this because I've looked into the ugly face - that is my face - of how I could have looked if I developed a penchant for the habit in my student years.
Queensland Health's latest anti-smoking campaign, aimed at women in the 18-24 age group, is a sure winner.
It targets something many young women are acutely conscious of: their attractiveness.
As the campaign's tagline cleverly says, if you smoke, your future's not pretty.
A pop-up "make under station" and photo booths at the Sunshine Plaza used professional make-up artists to give young women a glimpse into their future as a smoker.
But instead of looking at the condition of the lungs, the focus is on the premature aging effects of smoking.
Mine is not the prettiest face at the best of times, but let's just say after my "make-under" I would scare little children.
My teeth were blackened and the laugh lines my husband says are lovely were transformed into deep etchings.
My skin was blotchy but by far the worst transformation was my lips.
They looked like those of my grandmother before she died aged nearly 101.
Participants are provided with a photograph of their potential future self as a reminder of what smoking can do.
The campaign is proving to be very effective, as after its May launch Quitline received more than 300 calls - an increase of more than 15%.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said new research showed tobacco smoke contained more than 700 harmful chemicals, of which about 70 could cause cancer and hundreds of which were toxic.
Smoking also breaks down collagen supply and damages skin fibres.
The campaign has a natural beauty as its ambassador, with model and mother Rachael Finch joining forces with Queensland Health to get the message across.
As for me, I'll keep my before and after photos to show my kids as a grave warning of why they should never pick up a cigarette.
Additional physical side-effects of smoking:
- Smoking causes instant damage to a smoker's hair, nails and skin.
- Smoking increases production of an enzyme which breaks down the supply of collagen to the skins structure. Collagen supply is vital to the skins firmness and elasticity.
- Chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the fibres in the skin that are responsible for its strength and elasticity thus leading to wrinkles, sagging of the eye-lids, bags under the eyes and premature aging on our face and other parts of the body including breast sagging.
- Smoking is linked to early onset of menopause in women.