Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Diatribe from a Smoker's Daughter

Okay, I may not be too popular when I'm done, but this is a topic near and dear to my heart.

I just read several lovely articles. One about how tobacco farmers in the US are rebounding. Mostly because they're exporting their product. Yes, smoking is declining in the US but apparently it's okay to export death.

Not only that, but the tobacco companies are still up to their old tricks. One in five college students smokes. One in 5. Why? Because the tobacco companies target them specifically with a million dollars a day in event sponsorships and giveaways. One in five.

Not only that, but they're working on a new product called "snus". Smokeless tobacco in neat little pouches. You still get your nicotine hit and a lovely does of carcinogens but without that nasty smoke that so many dislike. Give me a fucking break!

I worked for the American Cancer Society at one time and I can tell you with confidence that smokeless tobacco is just as nasty for you as smoking. You might get less lung disease but as a lovely trade-off you get mouth cancers that make you look like a circus freak when they're done cutting out the cancer. Yeah, that's a real positive trade off.

So, not only are they targeting college students and trying to give "alternatives" to smokers, they're still lying to you. There is not a product made by any of these companies that isn't a slow way to kill yourself.

Let me explain. My mother smoked for nearly 40 years. When the surgeon general came out with his original statements about cigarette smoking being a major cause of cancer, she didn't believe it. This despite the fact that she watched her older brother die really horribly from lung cancer. And despite the fact that she already was showing signs of serious lung damage herself.

Growing up, I watched my mother enter the hospital on an almost annual basis with pneumonia or some other respiratory infection. She had Legionnaires once, strep in her nose, thrush more times than I can count from antibiotics and generally spent about a week out of every year sick as the proverbial dog.

She gradually lost her lung capacity and her ability to walk any distance at all without gasping for breath. She took daily at-home nebulizer treatments and a whole plethora of medications: inhalers, steroids, and I don't know what else in a vain effort to keep breathing.

She spent the last ten years of her life essentially home bound. She lost the ability to do the simple things: go shopping, go bowling, do just about anything that required her to get around on her own two feet. She struggled to breathe just crossing from one side of the house to the other. It took her ten long years to slowly die. She always feared dying of lung cancer like her brother but in my opinion, she got the far worse outcome. Her COPD took away not only her ability to function but her will to live. It weakened her heart and killed her one day at a time for ten long years. Ten years, by the way, in which she didn't smoke. She managed to quit. But after 40 years, the damage was done.

And just in case you think second hand smoke doesn't kill, I can tell you with the same confidence that it does. My father smoked as a young man but stopped. My parents were married nearly fifty years. For 49 years, he lived with a smoker, but didn't smoke himself. He developed the same COPD as my mother and it killed him, too.

There is an incredibly long list of cancers that are directly related to smoking or smokeless tobacco. Go to to see it. But cancer isn't the only way smoking kills. It's just the fastest.

If you smoke, please stop. If you're thinking about starting, please don't. It kills you slowly day by day. So slowly that you can't even tell, until the damage is done and it's too late. If I had my way, every tobacco company executive, scientist or farmer would be charged with murder. They create a product that has no redeeming value and kills not only the people directly addicted to it, but their families and innocent bystanders. Any other product with so many ways to kill people would have been outlawed long ago.

1 comment:

Chris said...

OH Baby girl, you have definitely seen the horrors of smoking first thanks for having the courage to write about it and inform others...good job...