Leroy Kehler, a former smoker and cancer survivor lent his voice and image to the national fight to increase warning pictures to cover 75% of the package front and back. Having spoken to thousands of Manitoba school-aged children about the dangers of tobacco use, Kehler agreed to put his picture on tobacco packages.
When Kehler started smoking at the age of ten, he wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary – his parents and siblings were all smoking. But if he could rewind time, he would. “I’d go back and never start in the first place, and tell my family to stop too,” he says. Kehler lost three members of his family to smoking. His mother, father and brother all died from either heart disease or cancer.
Leroy himself was so addicted to tobacco, it was only when his health was in jeopardy that he managed to quit. However, his actions came too late as Kehler was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx. He had his larynx removed and while that has saved his life, it has left him dependent on a voice prosthesis to communicate.
But he still has a voice: Leroy volunteers his time to the Canadian Cancer Society where he tells youth to stay away from cigarettes because of the devastating effects they can have on smokers and their loved ones.