This is a very short essay depicting the life of a smoker. Let’s take an honest look at his ups, his downs, and what he might encounter along the way.

Why Should I Quit Smoking?

The aroma of the smoke I inhale is so enchanting; I thought I was in another world. Little did I know the great benefits I would have as a result of smoking.

Although the Surgeon General has warned us that cigarette smoking is bad for your health, being young and healthy I felt he must be talking to someone else, not me. I am young, strong and fit and can handle smoking. So like many others, I disregarded his warning. After all, I am intelligent enough to decide for myself what is, or is not good for me.

I smoked for many years without any harm to myself. I was riding high with no worries in the world so long as my "shtogies" remained close by. And then, the day came! I felt a little pain in my chest. Initially thinking it to be a cold, I ignored it. About one week later, the pain disappeared. I felt good again, and continued on my merry way smoking away. About a month later, it was back again, the pain was back! I stopped smoking thinking it would go away, but no such luck. The pain persisted and after a few days I found myself scheduling a doctor's appointment.

Arriving at my doctor's office, I anticipated a short meeting where he would undoubtedly prescribe some medicine and I would be out one, two, three. It didn't quite happen that way. My doctor sent me for some chest X-rays, directing the X-ray technician to get some good bilateral X-rays of my lungs.

Alas came the good news! My lungs were congested, the doctor pointing out to me the damage I was causing. My once pink healthy lungs have now transformed themselves to a brownish black. Yes, D-Day had arrived. And the doctor's warning, "quit smoking or down the road prepare to suffer the consequences." Of course, I "yesed' him to death (no pun intended) and after taking the prescribed medication (abstinence) the pain really did go away. Unfortunately, several months went by and I found myself relapsing into my old ways--I just couldn't quit!

One day, not long after, while dancing in a club with some friends, all of a sudden I passed out. They tried to revive me but to no avail. The ambulance was called, and I was transported to the local hospital. Now for the fireworks, again with the X-rays, and more tests. They gave me special breathing tests with special equipment. The result-- I have Emphysema. I refused to believe it. Not me. Telling the doctor, "you must be wrong." It can't be! But I was wrong, and he was right. After taking all those tests, I found that I couldn't breathe like I used to. When running in place or after having gone up a flight of stairs I realized that I was out of breath, just like an old man. They had put me on a machine which was attached to a large bell jar, about the size of a five gallon jar. They stuck a tube through my nostrils down to my lungs and the machine pumped out the content of the lungs. It was awful. It was all the gook that had gathered in my lungs as a result of smoking for several years. That was proof enough for me. I was convinced. I shall not smoke again. After all that pain and suffering, I will not smoke again. But if you don’t believe me, try it yourself. Why not? Last year, 54 million Americans did, consuming 615 billion cigarettes. Estimations were that health costs associated with smoking were 27 billion dollars. I wonder if that had any relation to the Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health, where he indicated that in this same year there were 325,000 premature deaths linked to cigarette smoking.

What are the harmful substances in tobacco?
Nicotine, for one. This fatal substance damages you internally, usually slowly and over a long period of time. It can organize the condition for cancer and weaken organs like your heart, so that they cannot function properly.

Why do men get lung cancer more than women?
Men get cancer more than women because men have been smoking more and longer than women. The Surgeon General’s Report says that the death rate from lung cancer among women now appears to be increasing along the same lines as that of men. Women smoking during pregnancy have babies of lower birth weight than non-smokers of the same social class. The birth weight is also affected if the father smokes whether or not the mother does. This complicates delivery, and may cause injury to your baby, your beautiful baby that you waited 9 months to have. Lots of Luck!

What are some of the more serious diseases that appear frequently in smokers?
Studies show that chronic bronchitis and emphysema are often associated with smoking. Abnormal tissue changes have been observed in lungs and bronchial tubes of heavy cigarette smokers. It is believed that a cigarette cough may be one of the first signs of emphysema or other more serious forms of bronchitis. These lovely gifts of smoking I wouldn’t wish on anyone, not even my enemies. Smoking also causes heart disease and lung cancer. You experience a sharp pain in the middle of your chest. Perhaps abusing the body will force us out of this world before our time!

Will quitting after many years of smoking affect my future health?
Yes indeed! Not only will you become healthier, it might actually save your life! All studies agree that no matter how long or how much you’ve been smoking, when you quit your risk of developing any of the fatal diseases caused by smoking drops sharply. This fact along should be reason enough to quit. I understand that for many of you quitting cold turkey might be too hard. So with this in mind, I would suggest at least a few ways of cutting down;
1. Stop buying cigarettes by the carton.
2. Smoke only half of each cigarette that reaches your lips.
3. Commit yourself to smoke only during odd or even hours of the day.
4. Stop carrying cigarettes with you to college and/or work.
5. Decide in advance how many cigarettes you’ll smoke during that day.
And for each additional smoke above and beyond the allowable, penalize yourself by giving a dollar to your favorite charity.

What about gaining weight?
Since smoking and nicotine have appetite depressing effects, immediately after quitting, many ex-smokers experience “symptoms of recovery” such as temporary weight gain caused by fluid retention. It is important to know that these unpleasant aftereffects are only temporary and signal the beginning of a healthier life. Remember, it’s your life and it’s all up to you!
If I may be allowed to leave you with one last thought to ponder it would be a word to the wise; “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.”

Bibliography

1. Angermann, Gerhard. Learning to Live Without Cigarettes.
New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1968.

2. Casewit, Curtis. The Stop Smoking Book for Teens.
New York: Julian Messner Company, 1980.

3. Krasnegor, Norman P.H.D. The Behavioral Aspects of Smoking.
Maryland: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979.

4. Ochsner, Alton M.D. Smoking Your Choice Between Life and Death.
New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1954.