Those Cancer Sticks Never Look Good on Anyone
I need to stop being pointless, because there was a reason I started writing this post. A few months ago, I lost an ex-colleague of mine to cancer. And now I have a very dear family member afflicted with the disease. Both were smokers, my uncle especially so, and despite my best efforts throughout my life, I could never persuade him to kick the habit. Thankfully no one in my generation in my family smokes, but I do know that a significant number of persons around the world do.
I'm rarely didactic or preachy in this blog, but at this point, my impulse is to plead for people to reconsider their lifestyle decisions. If this post could impel even one of the readers to consider quitting smoking, I would consider the pain I felt in writing this down more than worth it.
This is what the American Cancer Society has to say about cigarette smoking and cancer:
Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths. It is a major cause of cancers of the lung, larynx (voice box), oral cavity, pharynx (throat), and esophagus, and is a contributing cause in the development of cancers of the bladder, pancreas, cervix, kidney, stomach, and some leukemias.
About 87% of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, and is one of the most difficult cancers to treat. Fortunately, lung cancer is largely a preventable disease.
Details can be found on the American Cancer Society information pages.
Compare this with only about 3 per cent of cancers attributed to environmental toxins.
With the spate of lawsuits against tobacco companies in the US, and major public awareness campaigns against smoking, it is feared that these companies would try to expand their businesses in developing countries. This article is four years old, but it details the expansion of tobacco multinationals into countries like India. I'm sure the onslaught of tobacco advertising has already begun at full swing, and brands like Wills are ponying up big money for events such as the India Fashion Week in Delhi.
Let's get this straight: THERE IS NOTHING COOL STYLISH OR TRENDY ABOUT SMOKING.Those who in a fit of mistaken bravado continue to smoke in the face of overwhelming evidence about the harm it causes have absolutely no idea of the misery of being afflicted with a deadly disease. Both for themselves, and for their family members. They have no idea of the excruciating physical pain of cancer and its treatments, and the emotional pain of dealing with terminal illness in the prime of life.
And for the examples of those who've been heavy smokers all their life and never suffered, that's like playing Russian roulette with your life with nearly half of the bullet compartments loaded. Don't believe me? Here's the American Cancer Society again:
About half of all Americans who continue to smoke will die because of the habit. Each year, about 438,000 people die in the US from tobacco use. Nearly 1 of every 5 deaths is related to smoking. Cigarettes kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined.
To be more explicit, if you continue smoking, there's a 50 per cent chance that you will die of a smoking related illness. None of us would ever drive a car which has a 50 per cent chance of spontaneously catching fire. None of us would ever consume food with a 50 per cent chance of poisoning you. And yet, many of us would continue smoking, oblivious to the grave risk it poses to ourselves and those around us.
However, I am well aware of how hard it is to quit. I had a neighbour who couldn't stay without a cigarette for long. The strict non-smoking rules in our apartment complex meant that he had to rush to the parking lot every 30 minutes, and even this inconvenience was not incentive enough to quit. But then, there are those who do manage to quit, through sheer force of willpower and peer support, and I've seen enough success stories to know that it's possible. My own father quit before my sister was born, and so did my boyfriend's father shortly after my boyfriend's birth. I regret every moment that my uncle wasn't one of them.
Perhaps I come across as brusque and offensive in my personal anti-tobacco crusade, but for the life of me, my mind cannot wrap itself around the fact that it would snatch away someone who grew me up, loved me like his own daughter and was kindness and care personified. What if someone had written this for him, maybe, just maybe he would have focused a bit more on quitting. Who knows.