Today, May 31st 2011 is World No Tobacco Day!
When I was a little girl I remember sitting on my Dad’s lap while he was watching TV. I could feel his chest rise and fall with each inhale and exhale as I snuggled up to him. I would silently try to match his breathing as he smoked his cigarette. Even his normal respiratory rate was too slow for mine, then he would inhale. I would get a little dizzy and when it resided I would try again.
A few years later my Dad quit smoking. I remember him eating sunflower seeds by the gallons to help him kick his habit. It worked for him and I am so grateful that he was able to see it through. He says he quit because he got sick and tired of his kids always harping on him about smoking. I am happy to take credit for his life change. I am also so proud that he chose to give up smoking for his kids. Doesn’t that just tell you a little about how wonderful he is. I am so glad he is my Dad. I am so glad he is now a non-smoker.
Now, so many years later, I am a nurse. I get to see first hand the effects of smoking. As a little girl I just though it smelled bad and knew there was a risk my dad would get the dreaded “lung cancer”. Now I know the effects are far greater than just lung cancer. Smoking can change a life in so many devastating ways.
Besides lung cancer, smoking increases the risk of ALL cancers. Patrick Swayze is a great example. Here is a middle-aged man who had made physical fitness a lifetime achievement for himself. He also smoked like a chimney. His pancreatic cancer was most likely caused by his addiction to nicotine. So this physically fit man wasted away to skin and bones and died at the mere age of 57. I heard him in an interview when he stated he was so angry. I could really understand how he felt but I wondered why he should think he would escape such a fate while smoking 3 packs of cigarettes per day. He easily could have had 30-40 more years of life if it was not for his smoking. Is smoking really worth giving up all those years? Most people would answer no to that question.
Smoking is also a vascular time bomb. Today, I treat hundreds of patients for vascular problems directly related to cigarette use. I see people who can not walk because they can not get enough blood flow to the muscles of their legs. I see people who have syncope, memory problems, dizziness and strokes because they can not get enough blood flow through their carotid arteries to their brain because of smoking. Heart attack, strokes, peripheral vascular disease. It goes on and on. I just don’t think people realized how horrible life is with these diseases. These disease are debilitating and a precursor to death…..early death in most cases.
Then, of course, there is COPD and emphysema. Do you really want to live life attached to an oxygen tank 24/7? Struggling to breathe, anxiety ridden? Really?
Did you know that smoking also causes bone density problems in women leading to osteoporosis. It also leads to dental diseases, erectile dysfunction, eye disease, peptic ulcers and overall poor health.
I hate to keep going on and on about this but there is one more thing. What about the impact smoking has on the people you love. Women who smoke during pregnancy small birth weight babies. That seems to sound okay to so many people but what that really means is that smoking RETARDS the growth of the fetus. That just isn’t okay! Cigarette use while pregnant also leads to greater risk of spontaneous abortion, neonatal death, stillborn births and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Is that worth it? Most people would say no.
Please don’t smoke, it hurts your babies, your family, your loved ones, your treasures….And it hurts you too. At the very least smoking smells bad and is uncomfortable to be around. I hated it when my Dad smoked. You know, he really had no right to smoke in front of us. He smoked in the house, in the car, in the restaurant, the airplane…..wherever….whenever. When he finally realized that no one could stand it, he quit. I am proud of him for it. He got it.
I wonder why so many smokers just don’t get it.
Please. Stop smoking. Today is World No Tobacco Day, this is a good day to stop.
Smoking Cessasion Resources: