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Berner Students Hear Cautionary Tale From Former Smoker

Health Speaker

Seventh graders in the Massapequa School District gained an understanding of the harmful effects of smoking from a guest presenter who strives to educate youngsters by sharing his personal story. Frank Mullahey, of Massapequa, has been visiting Berner Middle School for more than 15 years to speak to students during their health classes.

Mr. Mullahey explained that he started smoking when he was 12 and continued the habit for four decades. More than 20 years ago, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and was given months to live. A surprise recovery led to Mr. Mullahey’s desire to “do something positive” and teach children about the dangers of smoking.

He noted the short-term and long-term effects of smoking, including having his voice box removed. Mr. Mullahey speaks with a Servox, an amplifier that he holds up to his throat to pick up the vibrations of his vocal cords. Additionally, he can’t go swimming and can’t eat certain food.

As part of his presentation, Mr. Mullahey shares strategies with students on how to say “no” if they are being pressured to smoke, as well as how to approach a family member about quitting smoking.

Teacher Luana Dunn said Mr. Mullahey’s presentation supports the seventh grade health curriculum which includes a unit on smoking. Ms. Dunn explained that in addition to warnings about tobacco products, the unit has expanded in recent years to include vaping.