International World He wrote a fiery obituary himself to warn of grave dangers of...

He wrote a fiery obituary himself to warn of grave dangers of smoking




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IT could very well happen here to warn Singapore smokers of the ultimate price for puffing their life away.

You better read this article before you smoke your life away!

The obituary of Geoffrey Turner (above) was simply mind-blowing as the 66-year-old father of five man took it upon himself to write the final letter as a cautionary tale warning others against smoking.

Geoffrey Turner from Latham, New York, died of lung cancer on February 13 after decades of smoking. He described himself as an “idiot” and wrote: “If you’re a smoker – quit – now – your life depends on it.”

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He was diagnosed in November, and told that years of smoking had caused the condition.


In an obituary published in the US-based Albany Times Union, he wrote: “I was a smoker and even though I knew it may eventually kill me, I chose to deny the truth to myself.

“The pain and suffering I caused my family was not worth the perceived ‘satisfaction’ that really did nothing more than waste money, separate me from my family, and eventually destroyed my body.

“I lived a decent life, but there are so many events and milestones I will not be able to share with my loved ones. The moral of this story – don’t be an idiot. Remember, life is good – don’t let it go up in smoke.”

Mr Turner’s daughter, Sarah Huiest, told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) her dad had been smoking since he was a child. She said: “He always wanted ‘to do something big.’


“I am extremely proud of the selfless act of this obituary. This is what he will be most widely known for and it is a great thing.”

She said she was shocked when her father showed her the obituary. “I told him that it was incredibly self-deprecating. He shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘it’s all true’.”

The awesome response to the honest obituary has been very positive, according to his daughter.

“Friends and strangers have reached out to me to say how his words were what they wished they had heard from their own loved one,” Mrs Huiest says.

She told the BBC her grandmother first caught Mr Turner smoking cigarettes when he was just two-years-old – and her father himself remembered picking up the habit at age four.

Mr Turner initially stopped smoking after marrying Mrs Huiest’s mother, but once he picked it up again in the mid-90s during a business trip to London, he did not quit until his cancer diagnosis last year.

But he never smoked in front of his children, his daughter says.


“All while we grew up in the 80s and early 90s, he would speak out against smoking and urge us to never start.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US say that cigarette smoking is the top cause of preventable disease and death in the country, with around half a million people dying from smoking-related conditions each year.

In Singapore, a pack of 20 cigarettes can cost between S$10 to S$13.50, depending on the brand and retailer. Statistics show that most smokers consume 11-20 sticks per day. Assuming you smoke one pack of 20’s daily, every week: If you stop smoking, you can save up to S$4,927.50 a year. That’s a lot of money.

Singapore-born teacher Alfred Ramalingam, 55, a self-confessed cigarette fanatic, says “addictions are most times hard to quit”. He explains: “It’s the same with smoking. If you’re a smoker, you already know that it can cause you cancer and hundreds of other ailments. You already know that it’s costing you a lot from the way your wallet grows slimmer every time you buy another pack of cigarettes.

“You already know how much you should quit from the countless ads in the MRT stations and on your most visited sites. But imagine what it’d be like to not smoke and the amount of money you’ll have if you’re not actually spending on cigarettes. How much money do you even spend in a year on smoking?”

Mrs Huiest describes her father’s obituary as “by far the most significant thing he did in his life”.

“He always wanted ‘to do something big.’ I am extremely proud of the selfless act of this obituary. This is what he will be most widely known for and it is a great thing.”

His most unforgettable words in the self-written obituary: “Remember, life is good – don’t let it go up in smoke!”

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