My mother was 17 years old when she started smoking. it was 1956 and I’m sure a rather ‘cool’ thing to do in the 1950’s. No one had a clue about the damaging effects and even her father, a 400+ lb DOCTOR smoked. So, obviously there were not a lot of healthy role models around. My father whom my mom met when she was about 19, smoked then as well. They met at college and though my father eventually quit on my sister’s birthday one year my mother never did. Well, she did a few weeks before she died but even in the throes of cancer, she couldn’t. I suppose at that stage it didn’t matter.
I live in an area of town here there are a lot of older people and a lot of younger people in their 20’s. There is a high school a few blocks away. Lately, I feel like every time I walk down the street, and I do this often with my dog and at least once a day with my son, people are smoking. I know this shouldn’t shock me but it does, it’s absolutely incredulous to me. It’s 2014, there are cigarette packets that actually say this product may (it will) kill you, there are statistics galore, and I guarantee every one of these people knows someone who as a disease and/or died from smoking and yet… they smoke.
Yes, I know it’s addicting. I’ve never smoked but I get it and I do believe it’s likely even more addicting than hard drugs which people seem to have a better success rate at getting off of. Because cigarettes are legal and available they’re accessible. Finding heroin or cocaine, though perhaps easy for an addict isn’t quite as easy for the average Joe. My mom did try to stop over the years, half-heartedly I think. Never made it for very long and at the time, having grown up with it, I found it annoying but I didn’t know any better.
Her teeth, though she later had them whitened, were yellow and so became her fingers. She had a cough. She died of cancer. What else is there to say? I now cannot stand the smell of smoke. I have to hold my breath as I walk past people who sit on the stoops of their houses smoking. Today, after the rain, the wind blew rather hard and a woman walking ahead of us had a cigarette just hanging between her fingers. The smell, because the wind, blew it back, and it was overwhelming. I had to stop and wait until she was out of view. I felt rather dramatic about it but the smell is now death to me. I am a ‘survivor’ (at least for now) of second-hand smoke from my parents and everyone else who smoked when I was growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s. I can no longer abide it.
I have made it clear to my son that it’s horrible and he understands. I hope he’ll remember that when it becomes an issue for him, if it does. It’s amazing to me that people are still picking up cigarettes at a young age. I can’t understand that there are new smokers every day in America. I only know this culture and cannot comment on Europeans enough to give statistics or cultural reasoning there, but here, we know. It’s clear. Forget about the tobacco big business, I’m talking common sense and education. I mean, it can’t be made any clearer that it has. Don’t do it.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. It causes many different cancers as well as chronic lung diseases, such as emphysema and bronchitis, and heart disease.
- Cigarette smoking causes an estimated 443,000 deaths each year, including approximately 49,000 deaths due to exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States, and 90 percent of lung cancer deaths among men and approximately 80 percent of lung cancer deaths among women are due to smoking.
- Smoking causes many other types of cancer, including cancers of the throat, mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia.
- People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmokers, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked. Smoking also causes most cases of chronic lung disease.
- In 2011, an estimated 19 percent of U.S. adults were cigarette smokers.
- Nearly 16 percent of high school students smoke cigarettes.