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Anti-Smoking Essay Spurs Mother to Quit

Eleven-year-old Alex Alvarado said he had always worried about his mother’s smoking habit, so he wrote an essay last year pleading with her to quit.

Alex not only won the $3,300 essay contest, sponsored by the Southwest Minority Economic Development Assn., but persuaded his mom to quit.

Alex, who read his essay Friday to 1,500 students at Willard Intermediate School, was one of half a dozen speakers who took part in a local observance of World No Tobacco Day, which the World Health Organization has declared to be May 31.

Friday’s ceremony at Willard was one of a number of anti-tobacco events coordinated by the Orange County Health Care Agency.

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Among them was a campaign Thursday by underage Fullerton teenagers who went to liquor stores and mini-marts to see if they could buy tobacco products. (They were successful at 13 of 40 stores, making the merchants guilty of a misdemeanor under state law.)

At the Willard playground Friday, students marched with flags and signs with Walt Disney, Humphrey Bogart and the names of other celebrities who, according to the youngsters, died of tobacco-related causes.

For Alex, though, only one person mattered: his mother, Sylvia.

“I may not win the contest, but if I’ve touched my mother’s heart and she decides to quit, I’ll be an even bigger winner,” he wrote in his essay.

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Sylvia Alvarado, 36, attended Friday’s event to hear her son read his essay.

“I had a really bad addiction,” she said, “but I did quit.”


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