A joint post from three Panel students reflecting on our recent tobacco-themed meeting

Selected students from Harris Experience Advanced attended their first King’s Muscle Lab student panel meeting at King’s College London on Monday as part of their academic cultural enhancement. Established by Professor John Moxham, King’s Muscle Lab is a respiratory and physiology research facility, consisting of academics from all fields of health; such as medicine, physiotherapy and nursing and was created with the purpose of investigating the function of respiratory and skeletal muscles and how this changes in people with lung disease. Their work is largely focused on physiology, which is the study of how the systems of the body work and its relation to different conditions and diseases in which people have problems with their breathing. Being a part of the student panel will provide various opportunities and this first meeting was just the start of them.
The students were joined by visiting professionals working in a variety of departments ranging from Psychosis Studies to Health and Social Care in the United Kingdom Government and they gave presentations outlining their carer trajectories and current research areas and roles. Then it was discussion time. The topic brought to the table was ‘Tobacco and its Effects’, and the students were separated into small groups, each with a professional to discuss.
With Dr Alexis Cullen, an expert in psychosis studies, the groups talked about how smoking links to mental health issues, and observed the fact that there are a lot of other contributing factors to consider when looking at the correlation between smoking and mental health issues, for example; stress, home life and family problems. Ms Claire Pringle currently works in the Department of Health and Social Care, United Kingdom Government and the small group discussion with her looked at the social issues surrounding tobacco. The student panel argued whether tobacco could ever be criminalised, and introduced the comparison of Marijuana, discussing whether the use of it could ever be legalised. The role marketing can play in deterring people from smoking was an avenue which was also explored. Packaging of cigarettes is becoming less appealing in government efforts to try to discourage people from smoking, for example the U.K has begun to adopt cigarette packaging with graphic images on them such as people with rotting teeth, and bold letters which read; ‘Smoking Kills’ also appear on the boxes. The physical effects of smoking were explored with Dr Peter Cho. These consist of addiction to nicotine, many types of cancer, and COPD. Whilst the physical effects of smoking are horrific, the most shocking facts however, came from the discussions with Ms Hannah Perry, of the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences. No one expected to hear that there are around 7,000 chemicals inside cigarettes, and 70 of these are carcinogenic.
After the small group talks, the panel reunited to share the things they had learnt with each other. The afternoon was intellectually engaging and students were able to broaden their knowledge, talking about elements of life they come across each day, but do not necessarily give a second thought. They look forward to the next King’s Muscle Lab meeting and what opportunities for the future, panel membership might mean.

By Eliana Oworu, Uzma Niazi and Gisela Simbana-Tipan
(Year 12, HEA, Harris Academy South Norwood)

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