Will the story of these lungs help you quit?
Remember those lungs, the ones that gave me a big, squishy shove, metaphorically speaking, down the road to becoming a non-smoker? I think I found them. The Central District Health Department in Boise keeps pig lungs in a liquid that keeps them fresh. The lungs can be loaned out to people who want to give presentations at schools and other places where people can be scared straight.
Not all grade-school kids have seen the lungs. My kids go to school in the Meridian School District and saw the lungs at their elementary school three years ago, when my youngest children, twins, were 6 years old. Efforts are under way to expand the program in some Treasure Valley high schools, Joanne Graff, health educator for the health department, said.
Graff is in charge of loaning out the lungs to people who want to give presentations. She uses them herself sometimes, too. "They are always a great draw when I take them to health fairs," she said. She loans the lungs to various groups, including the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians, which has a strong anti-smoking campaign, she said. Pigs are among the animals whose organs most resemble human organs, in this case the lungs of adult human males. The only other lungs available for loan in the Boise area are at the American Lung Association, Graff said.
And they look real. The pink, spongy one represents the lung of a nonsmoker, but carbon in the black lung gives it the color of a human smoker’s lungs. And don’t forget the fake tumors throughout "to show what tumors look and feel like." The black lungs, spectators hear, look like the lungs of a human who has smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years. Graff can blow up the lungs with a bellows to make them breathe. "It is very visual," Graff said. "It really illustrates to people what can happen."
No wonder the whole thing made a big impression on my children. I’m glad I didn’t see it. It’s gross and icky. It’s an out-of-fashion scare tactic — but, well, it helped give me a reason to quit. That’ll do, pig.