May 2, 2017

On Smoking

There are people I love and respect who smoke cigarettes, and every one of them is dying because of it. And I don’t know what to do about it.

I’ve never smoked and I’ve never understood why someone would smoke. Cigarette smoke makes me cough, it is probably why I have asthma and being around it irritates my asthma. I have a firm belief that everyone should have control over their own body, and, if they so desire, they can kill that body. Smoking is a special case, because it doesn’t affect only the person who is smoking. The smoke fills the air and it hangs in the air especially if it is humid. The smoker has a choice: filter or no filter. I don’t. I get it unfiltered, laced with whatever the cigarette company put into it and whatever is lining the mouth, lungs and trachea of the smoker. Therefore, your smoking affects me in a profound and life-threatening way. I am going to share statistics with you later, and right now, I’m going to share this one: Second hand smoke causes nearly 42,000 deaths each year among adults in the United States; that’s 7,333 annual deaths from lung cancer and 33,951 deaths a year from heart disease.

This leads me to the children of smokers whose developing lungs are filled with smoke, tar, nicotine, arsenic and all the other additives and chemical creations made by burning these additives. There are 599 such additives that the five major American cigarette companies were compelled to submit to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. These additives have been approved for foods, and were not tested by burning them. According to the CDC, 7000 chemical compounds have been identified in cigarette smoke including 250 poisonous and 70 carcinogenic chemicals. Including, but not limited to, Carbon Monoxide, Arsenic, Hydrogen Cyanide, and Benzene. Here are some highlights from the list of cigarette additives: Ammonia, Ammonium Sulfide, Benzoic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Butanol, a host of unknowable, unpronounceable ingredients such as: 4,5 Dimethyl-3 Hydroxy 2,5-Dihydrofuran-2,One, Ethyl Alcohol, Ethyl Benzoate, Hexanoic Acid, 1-Phenyl-1 Propanol, Propylene Glycol, Urea and Yeast.

I will be 50 years old in a few months and while I was growing up, people were actually dying of cancer – everybody smoked, and cancer was The Plague, and people did not start smoking. Those who were smoking, quit and got healthy; quit and died; or just plum died. Not beautiful, elegant deaths, these were long, messy, violent deaths where people were eaten alive by their cancer. Now cancer is treatable, still messy, and treatable. Those who smoke still get cancer; they just survive.

I have a friend whose brother survived, he just had his jaw removed and breathes through a hole in his neck – and he survived. This is a preventable death, a preventable disease. Cigarette smoking affects you and everyone around you. If you smoke, you will die because you smoke. Period. Again, If you smoke, you will die because you smoke, and you are likely to take your loved ones with you. If you quit, you can be healthy. I just thought of the poor family member who gives away a lung to the guy who smoked both of his away.

Smoking is not only killing you it is grossly unfair to everyone around you. Your house stinks, your clothes stink, your skin emanates the aroma of the cigarettes that control you, and if you smoke outside, good for you, not great for the air around you and the people trying to breathe the air around you. If you smoke outside, you are missing out on the most important thing you do… breathe. You are polluting your personal space. You are polluting the personal space of those around you, and in my very well considered and un-asked-for opinion; smoking should occur in well-ventilated booths the size and shape of telephone booths. A Smoking section for one, where there is a fan drawing and filtering the smoke from the air and recycling it back into the smoking pod, so that the only one affected by the smoke is the smoker. And, the idea of smoking with other smokers… not only are you poisoning yourself, you are being poisoned by others second hand smoke. And when you are smoking in your car, the constancy of the smoke in your clothes, in the fibers of the car’s carpets, in the vinyl. There is a film over everything, and the ashtray… if you give someone else a ride, your friend, your child, you are subjecting them to the confined space even when you’re not smoking. And the smokeless cigarette is no better. The chemicals residing within the vapor, these have not been tested. And I will reiterate; the bacteria, germs, disease, anything within you is carried on this vapor or in the smoke from traditional cigarette and it hangs in the air, it acts as a carrier for whatever is lurking in you or in anyone.

Now, the statistics from the Centers for Disease` Control and Prevention of the United States. All of this information is about the US citizens, so, multiply exponentially for a worldwide number.

The overview: Overall mortality among both male and female smokers in the United States is about three times higher than that among similar people who never smoked. The major causes of excess mortality among smokers are diseases that are related to smoking including cancer and respiratory and vascular disease. Smokeless tobacco is a known cause of human cancer, in addition, the nicotine in smokeless tobacco may increase the risk for sudden death from a condition where the heart does not beat properly, ventricular arrhythmias, as a result the heart little or no blood to the bodies organs.

Cigarettes and Death: Cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year. Cigarette Smoking is estimated to cause the following: More than 480,000 deaths annually, including deaths from second hand smoke. 278,544 deaths annually among men, including deaths from secondhand smoke. 201,773 deaths annually among women, including deaths from secondhand smoke. Cigarette usage causes premature death. Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than for non-smokers. Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking related diseases by about 90 percent.

Secondhand Smoke and Death: Exposure to secondhand smoke causes nearly 42,000 deaths each year among adults in the United States. Secondhand smoke causes 7,333 annual deaths from lung cancer. Secondhand smoke causes 33,951 annual deaths from heart disease.

Increased Risk of Death Among Men: Men who smoke increase their risk of dying from bronchitis and emphysema by 17 times. From cancer of the trachea lung and broncus by more than 23 times. Smoking increases the risk of dying from coronary heart disease among middle-aged men by almost four times.

Increased Risk of Death Among Women: Women who smoke increase their risk of dying from bronchitis and emphysema by 12 times, from cancer of the trachea, lung and broncus by more than 12 times. Between 1960 and 1990, deaths from lung cancer among women increased by more than 500 percent. In 1987, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer to become the leading cause of cancer death among US women. In 2000, 67,600 women died from lung cancer. During 2010 to 2014 almost 282,000 women; 56,359 women each year, will die from lung cancer. Smoking increases the risks of dying from coronary heart disease among middle-aged women by almost five times.

Now, The Benefits of Quitting Smoking from the American Lung Association. What are the benefits over time? Twenty minutes after quitting your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Twelve hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Two weeks to three months after quitting, your circulation improves and your lung function increases. One to nine months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Cilia, tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs, start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection. One year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of the continuing smokers. Five years after quitting, the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder, are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a nonsmoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a nonsmoker after two to five years Ten years after quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer from the larynx and pancreas decreases. Fifteen years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker.

These are just a few of the benefits of quitting smoking for good: Quitting smoking lowers the risk of diabetes, let’s blood vessels work better, and helps the heart and lungs. Quitting while you’re younger will reduce your health risks more, and quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.

The Biggest Benefit: You are less likely to die from a smoking related disease and you are less likely to kill somebody else.

Ways to quit are many, ways that work? I ask people who no longer smoke how they did it. They quit, cold turkey. It is the thing that works. Others have quit, they are your best allies. If you are quitting, tell the other smokers, perhaps they will quit with you. If you live with a someone who smokes, quit together. Do it today. Do it now.

I began this by stating: ‘There are people I love and respect who smoke.” I love them and I respect them, and they are killing themselves. And, I am sad. I want them to be here, I am selfish. I want you in my life to laugh with, to enjoy life with, to grow old with. Please don’t take the beauty of you away from me. I love you, please, please stop smoking now.

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