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Tobacco addiction? Join the Great American Smoke-out


“I wish you wouldn’t bring that up again, Mom. I’ll quit when I’m ready.”

            “I don’t know why I started again.”

            “Melissa” has concluded that there’s no point in bringing up the subject of smoking cessation to either her husband or their 20-something daughter. She went with “Jack” to a doctor appointment at the VA Clinic. The doctor mentioned COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). With all sincerity she said, “Jack? He’s the healthiest person I know!”

            “On the outside, maybe, but not on the inside after so many years of smoking,” he responded as he handed Jack an emergency inhaler and gave him instructions on how to use it. She hoped it would help with that nagging cough that sounded to her like an asthma cough. Immediately her mind reviewed the years that her father had suffered lung disease … the numbers of trips to the emergency room to stabilize him, save his life … The countless times Dad had said, “It would be easier to die” … his lungs being so damaged that he had to be awake for a hip-joint replacement with local anesthesia. He would not have survived the surgery if they had put him to sleep. It had all been a long nightmare, more than 25 years. She didn’t want to deal with such a thing again. She didn’t want that for her husband.

            Smoking had never been an option for her. She remembered when she was a child and Dad packed the family in the car. He would light a cigarette and crack the driver’s door window to vent the smoke. She had never known whether she had motion sickness or if it was the smoke that she was forced to breathe. She always carried a fistful of tissues and had a lot of colds. Eventually she was diagnosed with asthma. For years Jack had stepped outside to smoke, even on the coldest days of winter, because the doctor advised him that Melissa could not be around cigarette smoke. In fact, over the years Jack quit smoking for several years at a time, but he would always go back, sneaking at first so she wouldn’t know. But she always found out.

            Her daughter started smoking when she was in high school. Melissa had not known for a long time. What she did know was that tobacco addiction is hard to beat the younger a person is when they start, especially for teen girls.

            One might say that scare tactics don’t work but the facts don’t lie. Here are a few facts from

            Benzene is found in gasoline.

            Beryllium is found in nuclear weapons.

            Chromium is found in stainless steel.

            Toulene is found in paint thinner.

            Cadmium is found in batteries.

            Lead is found in old paint.

            Carbon monoxide is found in car exhaust.

            Formaldehyde is found in embalming fluid.

            Ammonia is found in cleaning products.

            Naphthalene is found in mothballs.

            Vinyl chloride is found in PCV pipe.

            Hydrogen cyanide is found in insecticide.

            All of the above are found in cigarette smoke. Every time a smoker lights up, they are consuming those chemicals. Worse, their non-smoking loved ones are getting the effects of secondhand smoke so they also are suffering the effects of 7,000 toxic chemicals that are used in the production of tobacco products, 70 of which are cancer-causing.

            This source also says that “a typical one-hour session of hookah can produce as much smoke as several packs of cigarettes.”

            The cost of a carton of cigarettes, depending on the brand name, cost $60-$70.

            Thursday is the Great American Smoke-out of the American Cancer Society. The ACS advises that 40 million Americans still smoke “and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world.” If you are interested in quitting, now is a good time to do it because many others are making that commitment, too. Talk to your health care provider about options that might be best for you. And everyone can breathe easier at your house.

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