I have to tell the truth.
I have to let women know that cigarettes are one of the most addictive legal substances on the market. The product is always right there. In plain view. No pretense.
Thousands of packs of cigarettes are consumed every day. I think of tobacco consumption as death by a thousand blows. One of my patients disclosed that she began smoking when she was 5 years old. Encouraged by an older cousin, she would open the bottom of her mother's cigarette pack with a razor blade and remove cigarettes. She explained her reluctance to quit years later by commenting that the medications currently used for treatment of nicotine addiction can lead to suicidal tendencies. I calmly replied that she was already slowly killing herself. One puff at a time.
In this new year, I'd like to inspire and coach women to aggressively pursue health and wellness. For many women, the first step is to resist the urge to light up. Smoking is a very hard habit to break. It will be challenging, especially if you live in a household where others continue to smoke. No matter, you are strong. You care for your family and may work more than one job. Maybe you are going to school, working and raising a family all at the same time. If you can do that, you can quit smoking.
If you are a closet smoker, it's time to out yourself. It's time to celebrate your independence by publicly repudiating the nasty little habit you've grown to crave and need. You'll have to face the fact that, as with all addictions, your first step must be introspection, so don't flinch when the smart voice in your head tells you to wake up and free yourself from your dependency on a lethal substance.
I'm looking for recruits for the war against tobacco. It's been 50 years since the first surgeon general's report on smoking and health. That report concluded that:
- Cigarette smoking is causally related to lung cancer in men
- the magnitude of the effect of cigarette smoking outweighs all other factors
- The risk of developing lung cancer increases with duration of smoking and number of cigarettes smoked per day, and diminishes by discontinuing smoking.1
I can help you. Here’s my five-point plan:
- Relevance – I can provide you with health information that has the greatest impact on your status as a smoker.
- Risks – Please know that your second-hand smoke subjects the people you love to acute risks (shortness of breath, worsening asthma, infertility), long-term risks (heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer) and environmental risks (low birth-weight babies, asthma, lung cancer and heart disease).
- Rewards – You’ll enjoy better health and an improved sense of taste and smell, save money and reduce wrinkling of aging skin.
- Roadblocks – We'll identify and tackle barriers to quitting, such as withdrawal symptoms, fear of failure, weight gain, lack of support and depression.
- Repetition – Each time we talk, I'll repeat my motivational pitch.
The Centers for Disease Control offers great tips to establish your plan to quit smoking.
Are there any brave women out there willing to join the troops of healthy non-smokers? Let's chat. Let me know how you're doing.
1. US National Library of Medicine. Profiles in science: the reports of the surgeons general.