Ju­dith is mak­ing her fi­nal plans

Smoking will be the death of her, but she is deter­mined to go out on her own terms

Central Telegraph - - READ - BY Sherele Moody

IN THE 1960s, smoking was the epit­ome of glam­our and so­phis­ti­ca­tion. Big time stars made cig­a­rettes smooth and sen­sual – Spencer Tracy’s Lucky Strikes were “easy on the throat” even af­ter “throat-tax­ing scenes”; Bar­bara Stan­wyck posed with an L&M Fil­ter be­tween her fin­gers; Lu­cille Ball and Desi Ar­naz raved about the “tasty mild­ness, rich flavour and pleas­ant aroma” of the Phillip Mor­ris brand; Frank Si­na­tra saun­tered across movie sets and stages with a Ch­ester­field hang­ing ca­su­ally from his lips; and Lau­ren Ba­call “loved to see a man smoke a Ci­gar­illo”.

Back in sub­ur­ban Aus­tralia, 17-year-old Ju­dith Da­ley fell for big to­bacco’s clever Hol­ly­wood idol mar­ket­ing ploy that net­ted the in­dus­try bil­lions while fail­ing to tell con­sumers of the health risks.

“I only ever smoked men­thols, which I re­called be­ing mar­keted to ladies,” Ju­dith re­mem­bers, her voice husky from years of breath­ing in cig­a­rette smoke.

“It was prob­a­bly about 30 a day. But if I went out drink­ing it could eas­ily be­come 40 or 50.”

“Ev­ery­body was do­ing it. My mother smoked, all the boys and girls smoked. Movie stars smoked. “It was such a so­phis­ti­cated thing to do.” Iron­i­cally, Ju­dith had her first smoke in 1962 – the year that the Royal Col­lege of Physi­cians re­leased its ground-break­ing Smoking and Health Re­port that showed a clear link be­tween cig­a­rettes and can­cer and lung dis­ease.

While the re­port made waves around the world, big to­bacco sim­ply con­tin­ued its spin, en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple like Ju­dith to keep in­hal­ing its prod­ucts.

About 25 years af­ter her first smoke, Ju­dith’s body was wag­ing what seemed like a con­stant war against bron­chi­tis.

“I was sick a lot of the time,” the for­mer pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor turned ac­tor says of her de­ci­sion to fi­nally quit at the age of 42.

“Back then there was this myth that if you gave up smoking, all the dam­age done would be gone in 12 months. “I can tell you that’s not true.” Just a few years af­ter but­ting out for the last time, Ju­dith was di­ag­nosed with em­phy­sema, a deadly lung con­di­tion found in many peo­ple who have smoked.

Now 72, the ac­tor’s body is slowly wan­ing as lung in­fec­tions, asthma and bronchial scar­ring from pneu­mo­nia take their toll.

“The one big re­gret of my life is that I smoked,” Ju­dith says of the habit that claims at least 15,000 Aus­tralians a year and costs the econ­omy about $31.5 bil­lion a year.

“I won’t be breath­ing to­wards the end of my life – I’ll be suf­fo­cat­ing.”

While Ju­dith con­cedes her teenage yearn­ing to be cool will put her in an “early” grave, she is deter­mined to make sure she leaves this world on her own terms.

Like 70% of Aus­tralians, she be­lieves eu­thana­sia should be le­galised in our coun­try, so over the past few years she has be­come an out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for the cause.

She even ran, al­beit un­suc­cess­fully, in the 2015 NSW elec­tion on the Vol­un­tary Eu­thana­sia Party ticket.

Eu­thana­sia is de­rived from a Greek term and sim­ply means “good death” – and that is all Ju­dith wants.

She says her need to die with “grace and dig­nity” started to take shape about a decade ago when she helped nurse her hus­band, Robert, as he suc­cumbed to a chronic heart con­di­tion.

The cou­ple spent a lot of time wait­ing be­hind those blue cur­tains syn­ony­mous with hos­pi­tal emer­gency rooms, lis­ten­ing to other pa­tients en­dure ex­treme pain and suf­fer­ing in the “fi­nal hours” of their lives.

“We could hear these peo­ple dy­ing – some of them were scream­ing, some of them were cry­ing, some were call­ing for their mother,” Ju­dith says.

“The doc­tors and nurses would tell us they’d given them all the pain re­lief pos­si­ble. “I heard peo­ple hav­ing hor­ri­ble deaths. “Dy­ing is not like the movies. “You don’t just go to sleep and van­ish.” The NSW and Vic­to­rian gov­ern­ments are ex­pected to de­bate eu­thana­sia laws in the com­ing 12 months.

Queens­land lob­by­ists hope to get the ball rolling af­ter the state goes to the polls this year or next.

Aus­tralia briefly had vol­un­tary eu­thana­sia laws about 21 years ago when in 1996, the North­ern Ter­ri­tory in­tro­duced the Rights of the Ter­mi­nally Ill Act.

Dur­ing its short-lived op­er­a­tion, three peo­ple were legally

‘‘ I heard peo­ple hav­ing hor­ri­ble deaths. Dy­ing is not like the movies. You don’t just go to sleep and van­ish.


◗ ABOVE: At 74 years old, Ju­dith Da­ley hopes an Aus­tralian state will have vol­un­tary as­sisted death leg­is­la­tion in place be­fore she dies. She has a num­ber of chronic dis­eases as a re­sult of smoking for 25 years. TOP RIGHT: Old ad­ver­tise­ments pro­mot­ing smoking and cig­a­rettes.

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