9 vintage photos of smoggy London to remind us to take care of our air.

Londoners deserve better.

If you happened to be near the U.K.'s Department for Transport in London on April 27, 2016, you may have spotted this alarming scene:


Fortunately, it was a staged event. These were protesters, and they were perfectly safe and sound, out of harm's way. However, the crisis they're bringing to light is, unfortunately, pretty disturbing all on its own.

London has an air pollution problem, and it's putting the lives of city residents at stake.

The "die-in" protest, organized by Stop Killing Cyclists, brought 250 supporters onto the streets to demand cleaner air. Their staged deaths were meant to symbolize all the people air pollution silently kills in Britain each year — upward of 50,000, according to a bipartisan report from Parliament released this week.



Of course, a clean-air future is possible in London — especially when you remember what London used to look like.

Here are nine photos from the past that show just how far London has come in reducing air pollution:

1. This was London six decades ago.

Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

2. Doesn't it look ... gray?

Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

3. Smog, which became a big problem there in the 1950s and '60s, can certainly take the romance out of a cute stroll with a special someone...

Photo by Monty Fresco/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

4. ...or make a morning commute a whole lot worse than it needs to be.

Photo by Peter King/Fox Photos/Getty Images.

5. You could even say 1950s London resembles Beijing today.

Photo by Keystone/Getty Images.

6. Air pollution is definitely not an issue new to London in the 21st century. The smog there used to be much, much worse.

Photo by Edward Miller/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

7. In 1952, London's Great Smog killed and sickened thousands of residents in a matter of days.

Photo by Terry Fincher/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

8. In response to crises like that one, the country realized dramatic change was necessary.

Photo by Keystone/Getty Images.

9. Like many other Western nations at the time, the U.K. began breaking its addiction to dirty energy and prioritizing cleaner methods.

Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

Clean Air Acts were passed in 1956 and 1968, which banned emissions of black smoke and forced regulations onto urban factories. In the decades since, clean-air technologies and higher pollution standards have helped guarantee London's worst smog days are far behind it.

Now, more than a half-century later, London has done quite a bit to clean up its act.

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

But as the recent protest illustrated, so much more needs to be done to keep London's air fresh and clean and make sure the city never returns to the smog-filled air of the '50s.

Because who would ever want to go back to this?

Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images.

Heroes

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

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Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

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For those of us who are not on the spectrum, it can be hard to perceive the world through the senses of someone with autism.

"You could think of a person with autism as having an imbalanced set of senses," Stephen Shore, assistant professor in the School of Education at Adelphi University, told Web MD.

"Some senses may be turned up too high and some turned down too low. As a result, the data that comes in tends to be distorted, and it's very hard to perceive a person's environment accurately," Shore continued.

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Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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