Tag Archives: smoking

Telling a Friend it is Time to Quit Smoking

I am not a smoker and believe that no one should smoke. I can easily list 20 reasons why someone should not smoke. I cannot think of one reason for why someone should smoke. Some of my friends are smokers. They rarely smoke in my presence. If they do it is after they have asked for my permission to do so. I do not believe that it is my place to lecture them about the dangers of smoking. In my opinion they have the right to smoke, if they choose to do so.

In recent years the tobacco industry has been vilified for causing an assortment of health problems. The tobacco companies have been dogged by a variety of lawsuits brought by smokers who became ill as a result of smoking. Local municipalities have placed steep excise taxes on the sale of cigarettes which drives the cost of pack into the stratosphere. Still, the leading tobacco companies manage to stay profitable. The  New Tobacco Atlas  estimates that revenue from the global tobacco industry is likely to approach a half trillion U.S. dollars annually. The Atlas goes on to state that in 2010, the joint profits of the six leading tobacco companies was $35.1 billion dollars, equal to the combined profits of Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and McDonald’s in the same year. If Big Tobacco were a country, it would have a gross domestic product (GDP) of countries like Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Venezuela. Even during economic downturns the world’s major tobacco companies are positioned to remain profitable. It is an understatement to say that tobacco is big business. The fact still remains that smoking is hazardous to your health, profits or no profits.

According to the American Lung Association  over 392,000 people die from tobacco related diseases each year. Thousands more survive years of smoking only to suffer the horrible medical consequences of having smoked. Years of scientific and medical studies have conclusively established that smoking is a slow killer. Smoking not only causes lung cancer it leads to other forms of cancer. Smokers run a greater risk of developing asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and emphysema. Because smoking is so hazardous the U.S. Surgeon General requires general warnings  placed on cigarette packs. I am sure that everyone has seen a graphic advertisement urging people to quit smoking. It must be asked why people continue to smoke.

By exercising their police powers municipalities have banned smoking in public areas to get people to stop smoking. Even private businesses prohibit their workers from smoking on company property. Nowadays if you are a smoker you are likely to be ostracized and shunned. I do not believe that smokers should be discriminated against in any manner.

I cannot understand why anyone in 2012 would start to smoke. For those people who do smoke, there are ample reasons why they should immediately stop. Yet, quitting smoking which is better known as “kicking the habit” is not easy to do. Besides causing a physiological dependency smoking also results in a physical dependence. Research long ago ended the debate over the addictive qualities of nicotine, a drug naturally found in tobacco. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that nicotine has similar pharmacologic and behavioral characteristics to cocaine and heroin addictions. People who try to quit smoking actually go through withdrawal symptoms and uncontrollable cravings. It is fair to say that kicking the habit is infinitely more difficult to do than smoking that first cigarette. One cannot quit smoking as easily as turning of a light.

For as long as I can remember my mother smoked. I believed that she developed lung cancer because of her smoking. She passed away in 2006 after refusing further medical treatment to eradicate the disease. She and I often talked about the dangers of smoking and the need for her to stop. She simply acknowledged the dangers of smoking and said she would one day quit. She tried various methods and tactics to quit but was always came up short of achieving her goal.

Would talk with one of your friends who smokes about the need to quit?

My good friend, who I will call Peter, is a smoker. A few years ago Peter would have been described as a chain smoker. He is married with two children in college. His wife works in the hospitality industry. Though Peter and I stand at the complete opposite ends of the political spectrum our friendship has endured for years and seems to get stronger with each passing year. We do business with each other and interchange clients and customers.  Every other Saturday we meet at a sports bar in Manhattan for a beer or two and to watch a sporting event. Peter’s wife has repeatedly asked me to help her husband quit smoking. I always told her that I would but never did. I am not sure why I never talked to Peter about smoking.

Towards the end of July I read an article posted on Huffington Post. The piece was entitled “How to Fearlessly Quit Smoking”. It appeared on July 27, 2012 in the Healthy Living section. The article was written by Jonathan Alpert, a licensed psychotherapists, who is an advice columnist and author. Mr. Alpert is highly respected and is a well known for offering no-nonsense advice. I have read many articles about how to stop smoking. “How to Fearlessly Quit Smoking” left out the doom slaying medical-tech babble about the health risks of smoking and instead offered practical ways for quitting.

New York City Is Over Weight

On September 20, 2011 the mayor of the City of New York (NYC), the Hon. Michael Bloomberg (the Mayor) addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Mayor spoke about the urgent need to solve the world crisis in non-communicable diseases. In his 12 minute address to General Assembly the Mayor argued that governments are in a unique position to stem this public health crisis. By enacting laws and implementing appropriate policies, governments could make the social default good health and not neglected health. Governments should pursue policies and laws that eliminate the unhealthy eating practices of its citizens. Though Mayor Bloomberg is a zealot for the improvement of public health he is right about the role governments should play in this effort.

In support of his arguments the Mayor cited NYC’s pro-active stance towards public health. He talked about NYC’s enactment of laws that banned cigarette smoking in restaurants, bars and on City owned property. Mayor Bloomberg also mentioned that the excise tax that the City of New York imposes on a pack of cigarettes raises the price of a pack to the highest in the United States.

Mayor Bloomberg also talked about the fact that NYC was the first municipality to ban the use of Trans Fats in restaurant cooking. Simplistically stated; Trans Fats are chemically modified food ingredients that raise the level of a particularly unhealthy form of cholesterol. Over the years we have become accustomed to the use of these fats in the preparation of fast foods. Who has not eaten McDonalds French fries or Kentucky Fried Chicken?

I do not always agree with the Mayor’s view on politics or economics. On the issue of governments’ participation in the improvement of public health I agree with the Mayor’s position.

There are no good health benefits that can be derived from smoking. Every year hundreds of thousands of people around the world die from diseases caused by smoking. Tobacco smoking increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Smokers are more likely to suffer from pulmonary and blood vessel diseases. The ill effects of smoking are well documented. Mayor Bloomberg correctly insists that governments should lead the charge to end smoking.

NYC took bold and decisive action on December 30, 2002 when it banned smoking in
restaurants, bars and most work spaces. At the time the ban became  law, owners of the targeted establishments argued that the new law would dramatically  increase the costs of doing business. These doom slayers were ultimately proven  wrong once the data could be collected and analyzed. The smoking ban has not  had a negative impact on business operations. New York State enacted a comprehensive  legislation which banned smoking. The newly enacted state law left intact NYC’s law but modified and eliminated some of the exceptions. Many national and foreign jurisdictions have enacted laws modeled on NYC’s smoking ban law.

After a contentious debate about civil liberties versus the police power of the state, the New York City Council on February 2, 2011 passed a second law prohibiting smoking on the City’s beaches and in its parks. Council members voted overwhelmingly in favor of this ban. Speaker of the Council, Christine Quinn Cristina Quinn, believed that the new law was a victory for non-smokers rights. Supposedly this further ban was passed to protect New Yorkers from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. Beaches and parks attract visitors who want to feel a cool breeze on their faces and to breathe some “fresh air.” Consequently secondary smoke, if any, should dissipate in open space before it bothers anyone.  Exposure to secondary smoke in enclosed spaces can create health problems but not at beaches or parks.

There have been no successful legal challenges to the City’s power to enact laws that ban  smoking or eliminate the use of Trans Fats in foods.

Statistics indicated that during the last 10 years almost 500,000 New Yorkers quit
Officials assert that this drastic reduction in smoking is due to the City’s graphic anti-smoking ads and the ban on public smoking. This is the official line but it cannot be the reason for the drop in smoking. The majority of the people who have quit the habit have done so due to the high cost of cigarettes. Regardless of the reason people are smoking less the total cost of treating smoke related illnesses has  fallen every year. In my opinion Mayor Bloomberg was correct in his address to the General Assembly when he stressed that the economics favored governments using their power to cut the number of smokers.