Debi Austin gives a wheezing cry followed by a reflection on the way she knew she would be remembered in an anti-smoking video. Austin died on Wednesday at the age of 62.
“To die knowing that you’re going to be leaving the people who think you walk on water behind, and then they’re going to go to school and they’re going to find out it was a preventable death,” Austin said in the video.
In a Q&A with Los Angeles Times in December, 2010, Austin said: “People remember me because of the stupid things I did. Don’t be remembered because of the poor choices you made.”
She started smoking at the age of 13, she continued to smoke through a hole in her neck after having her larynx removed due to cancer at 42. In life, Debi Austin did all she could to ensure others would not chain their lives to cigarettes the way she had.
Her ad campaigns began in the 1990s with the jarring “voicebox” ad.
In the ad, Austin says in a raspy voice, “They say nicotine isn’t addictive.” She puts a lit cigarette to the hole in her neck, inhales, and says, “How could they say that?”
The California Department of Public Health expressed their gratefulness for this native Californian’s efforts.
“She was an inspiration for Californians to quit smoking and also influenced countless others not to start,” reads the department’s statement. “We trust she will continue to touch those that hear her story, particularly teens and young adults. She will be greatly missed.”
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