Smoking Had a Different Reputation in the Past
I began smoking in the early 1960s. It was a time when smoking was seen as an all-American sort of activity. Families sat around the television at night to watch their favorite shows whose sponsors were cigarette companies. Wholesome characters such as Dick Van Dyke and Lucille Ball smoked cigarettes right on your favorite shows. Cigarettes were widely available for anyone to purchase in vending machines, which were placed right next to the coke and chip machines. Magazines, newspapers and giant billboards were full of print advertisements for cigarettes. If you had the money, anyone could purchase cigarettes. Many children were sent to the store to pick up a pack for mom or dad.
How I Picked Up the Habit
In my case, you could say that picking up cigarette smoking seemed like the patriotic thing to do. When I was in the Marine Corps and the Drill Instructor said, “The smoking lamp is lit,” meaning we could stop and take a smoke break. I stood around with my hands in my pocket. I asked one of my fellow Marines for a cigarette because all I was doing was standing around watching the other guys light up. This new habit lasted until one day after boot camp when I developed the worst headache imaginable. I wasn’t one to have headaches, and since I was smoking around five packs of Winston cigarettes a day, I attributed the headache to smoking.
I quit smoking soon after that and picked up chewing gum. Chewing gum helped keep my mouth occupied but my body still went through a serious nicotine withdrawal. I was very nervous. I couldn’t sit still but I fought the urge to smoke day by day until finally after a few months, my body started to calm down. I felt better and I was able to cope with situations a lot better.
Man, I Wanted to be Cool!
Cigarette smoking back then was considered a cool thing to do and a lot of people picked up the habit just trying to look cool. The fact that cigarette smoking was a habit that could kill you wasn’t revealed to the public until years later. Researchers kept discovering health risks of smoking as the numbers of smokers increased. 34 million people in this country are still lighting up even though the risks are now known. Some people justify the smoking habit because it helps keep their weight down. Women who smoked were portrayed as glamorous and sophisticated. The Marlboro man let us men know that it was the macho thing to do (By the way, David McLean, aka the Marlboro man, died of lung cancer in 1995. Three other Marlboro men also died of cancer.)
Where Did Smoking Come From?
The Native Americans used cigarettes in rituals and introduced smoking to European settlers. The French brought the habit back home gave cigarettes the name we know them by today. Washington Duke started to roll cigarettes by hand and sold them to the soldiers after the Civil War. James Bonsack invented the first cigarette machine which increased the production of cigarettes from 40,000 to 4,000,000 a day. He opened the American Tobacco Company in the late 1880s. The earlier producers of tobacco products had no idea of the dangers of smoking.
How It’s Grown in Popularity Despite the Consequences
Smoking accounts for 30% of all cancer deaths and 87% of all lung cancer deaths. There are over 400,000 deaths per year attributed to smoking even though there are warnings on every pack sold. The price of cigarettes has been driven up to 6 to 8 dollars a pack because the addiction of “sin” taxes, but even the costs have not been much of a deterrent to smokers. People who can’t afford the basic necessities will still find the dough for this highly-addictive habit.
I started smoking when I joined the Marines, as I had mentioned before. I felt so much better when I eventually quit and I thought I had kicked the habit for good. I relapsed and began smoking again a year or two later, so I realize that this is a hard habit to kick. I quit again twenty years later when I started jogging and became more health conscious.
Cigarettes Have Cost Me Dearly
I was married for almost 48 years to a wonderful lady who once told me that she absolutely loved to smoke. She said it was her favorite past-time. She quit for 15 years, only to pick up the habit again when she decided to go out with her friends who smoked and try “just one.” My wife was diagnosed with non-small cell carcinoma of the lung in June of 2015. By March of 2016, the cancer had moved to her brain. I lost my wife in May of 2016. She lived until she was 70, but I wonder every day how many more years would she have lived if she hadn’t started smoking again.
Smoking is like playing Russian roulette. One day, your luck is going to run out.
Addictions are not Easy to Overcome
Why is smoking so hard to quit? It is because cigarettes contain nicotine, and the chemical is very addictive. It only takes seconds to be absorbed into the bloodstream where it is able to travel and affect the entire body. According to the CDC, the effects of nicotine can be as addictive as heroin, cocaine and alcohol.
Just like any other addictive habit, it is best not to try it to begin with. Everyone believes that they are different and they will have the willpower to remain control of these destructive habits. Smoking has immediate effects on the body. For instance, short-term smoking affects the respiratory system, the heart becomes enlarged, and the pulse and blood pressure go up.
We Are All Going to Die Anyway
You’ll often find the children of smokers, who even after they have witnessed a parent suffer and die from cancer caused by smoking, continue to smoke. Why? Are they in some type of denial and think that their own luck will be better? Sometimes, you’ll hear a smoker be blasé about cancer and say, “Everybody has to die of something, sometime.” Sure, we will all die someday, but why risk dying in the prime of your life and from such a painful, ugly disease as cancer if it can be avoided.
Numerous Ways to Die, and Other Affects of Smoking
Cancer is probably the worst effect of smoking, but that is not the only disease that smoking contributes to. Here is a list of diseases that smoking contributes to:
Diabetes, Heart Disease, COPD, Stroke, Aortic Aneurysm, Cataracts, Erectile Dysfunction, Ectopic pregnancies, vision loss, Tuberculosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, Alzheimer’s, SIDS and Dementia. Smoking also affects your sleep, hearing, bone strength, psoriasis, acid reflux, circulation, Crohn’s disease, premature baldness, wound healing, and fertility.
Let’s not forget that smoking makes you look old before your time and costs you a lot of money (not just the thousands of dollars spent buying cigarettes, but also for life insurance which you really ought to get if you insist on smoking). The habit wastes a lot of your time (looking for a place where you are allowed to smoke, thousands of wasted minutes which literally go up in smoke while you “enjoy” that cigarette you so desperately need to relax you, and all that time spent running to the neighborhood convenience store to buy pack after pack which seem to disappear into thin air.) Don’t forget the fact that smoking makes you and your stuff smell bad. *
For information and help to stop smoking, please contact https://smokefree.gov/quit-smoking/getting-started/steps-to-manage-quit-day
Good Luck and God Bless
The next blog will be information on the dangers of second hand smoke and e-cigarettes.
1 Corinthians 6: 19 – 20: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.