The SparkPeople Blog

Surprising Stats About Smoking in the U.S.

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
9/17/2010 10:20 AM   :  176 comments   :  14,851 Views

See More: news, health issues, trends,
My 3-year old is a very perceptive (and somewhat nosey) little girl. She asks a lot of questions about people she sees when we go places. "Why is she doing that?" or "Why does he look like that?" are common kinds of questions. She’s not trying to be rude; she’s just curious about the world around her.

One of her recent questions was "What is he doing? That stuff is stinky," referring to someone who was smoking. She wanted to know all about it: what smoking is, who does it and why. I felt like I was giving good answers until she asked her last question. “Why would someone start doing that if they know it’s bad for them?” That was a little harder for me to answer, especially in a way that a 3-year old would understand. I told her that a lot less people do it than used to, because they know it’s bad for their health and they know it can be hard to quit once they start. Then I read a new report about smoking rates in the U.S., and realized a lot more people still smoke than I would have thought.

According to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20 percent of Americans still smoke. What’s more, between 2000 and 2005 the number of smokers continued decline. But over the past 5 years, that decline has stopped. Officials at the CDC say tobacco companies have learned to sidestep laws to attract new smokers and direct marketing towards children. According to the report, "Thirty-one percent of smokers live below the poverty level, and 25 percent never graduated from high school compared with 6 percent of those with graduate degrees." This surprised me, especially because smoking is such an expensive habit. The average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $4.50-$5.00. Can you imagine how much money people can save if they quit? Especially if you’re living below the poverty level, that money could be used to buy groceries and other important items. But I know quitting is not as simple as just wanting to stop.

The report also says that "Secondhand smoke remains a serious problem for 88 million nonsmokers. 54 percent of children aged 3 to 11 are exposed to secondhand smoke, and 98 percent of kids living with a smoker have measurable levels of toxic chemicals from cigarette smoke." So even though someone has the right to decide whether or not they start smoking and whether or not they continue, it doesn’t affect only them. It affects those around them as well.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. But on a positive note, it does appear that many people are smoking less, even if they are still continuing the habit.

Are you surprised by these numbers? Are you a former smoker? If so, how did you quit?


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Comments

  • 176
    I started smoking in college. I wish more info had been available to my age group for I most likely would have never started. I never smoked more than half a pack and most burned down without me having more than a few puffs. I tried to quit 2 times and something always happened that I used as an excuse. I then said I would become smoke free by such and such a time and then did so - cold turkey. Even though I have been smoke-free since June of 1996, in May of 2011 I was diagnoised with tonsil cancer. My oncologist believes it was from smoking with working with chemicals (hair stylist) after I had stopped contributing. Even though we'll never know for sure, it really doesn't matter to me. The smoking was bad for me and I wish I had truly been ready before when I did. The treatments that I had ended in August but I still don't have my taste back to normal. There are so many things I haven't been able to eat. My saliva glands were zapped with the radiation, so I have constant dry mouth. I also had to have most of my teeth pulled even though it hadn't spread to any other area. Even though the cancer is no longer there, my side affects remain.
    Good for those who have stopped and good luck for those trying. And for those who haven't or don't want to, when you are ready, you will. If you are still in SP and see me around the boards and want some support, spark mail me and I'll be as supportive as possible. It's strange, but I just blogged about this last week!! - 2/4/2012   2:01:30 AM
  • 175
    I'm a smoker and I don't want to quit ... there, I said it.

    - 1/4/2011   10:04:03 AM
  • LUCI2010
    174
    A smoker for nearly 40 years, I was beginning to think quitting might never happen -- when I discovered Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking book. My husband and I have both been smoke-free, really happy about it and not at all terrified about sudden relapses sneaking up on us, for 7 months. - 10/8/2010   2:41:17 PM
  • CHUNK40
    173
    I quit smoking when back in the late 70's there was the "first America smoke out" in November. I just wanted to see if I could quit for the day, then it became how long can I go and I never went back. - 9/25/2010   5:20:37 PM
  • 172
    It's hard to understand why people start to smoke at first place. For me, it's a disgusting habit, no good come out of it (except for successful tobacco companies!) and it just plain irritating. Once, I couldn't help myself but blurt out that my friend stank after he finished smoking outside. At my country, the cigarette packs have scary pictures of terrible health conditions, such as a very bad mouth condition, I just wanted to throw out. Just imagine what about the smokers who have to look at the pictures every time they buy the cigarette and still smoke?!! - 9/24/2010   8:50:07 AM
  • JERSEYSUNSHINE1
    171
    I quit smoking exactly one month ago today....yay go me :) - 9/23/2010   12:27:46 PM
  • 170
    I quit smoking at least once a week when I was a smoker. I went on meds that my doctor prescribed to help me quit - they helped me with my mood swings too. I love the one comment about "just quit, i did". I'm sorry, but for some of us, it's just not that easy. I've never done heroine, but I've heard that quitting smoking is harder than quitting heroine...it is an addition and some of us need help. Good luck to those that are quitting! - 9/23/2010   12:00:26 PM
  • 169
    My father-in-law died Feb 14 this year at 72 years old. He had quit smoking almost 10 years ago, but ultimately it was his lungs that did him in. The damage had been done. He chewed the nicorette gum and said to his dying day, if he could smoke with no harmful effects, he would! - 9/23/2010   11:14:34 AM
  • 168
    I do not and have never smoked. My nephew smokes. I pray for him that God will give him the strength and desire to stop smoking. He wants to quit and now has a baby daughter. - 9/22/2010   9:36:56 PM
  • 167
    I smoked 1 to 1 1/2 packs of full flavored cigarettes a day for 33 years and I am an RN. I knew better. I tried to quit several times without luck. BUT...I was totally done after 12 days of taking Chantix. Other than a few crazy dreams, I had no side effects. I highly recommend it! It is expensive at the onset but well worth it in the long run and SO much healthier!!! Good luck and God Bless! - 9/22/2010   12:21:14 AM
  • BBAPER
    166
    just quit i did - 9/21/2010   9:38:33 PM
  • 165
    Cold turkey. That's the only way to go. Of course, it helps if you're flat on your back with the flu for a full week. Really helps break the nicotine craving. That was in 1983. Haven't even wanted a cigarette ever since, and can't stand to be around them. No smoking allowed in my house or my car. Nothing like a reformed smoker! LOL - 9/21/2010   4:36:00 PM
  • 164
    I did smoke for seven years, First for four, quit for five on the nicorette gum, then smoked for three, and have now been quit for almost seventeen, using the nicorette patch. I have never looked back. - 9/21/2010   1:08:36 PM
  • 163
    Smoking has so much attached to it anymore. My paprents always told be that back in the day people couldn't care less if you smoked, where you smoked, if you quit or what. The point I'd like to make is that there is a lot of propaganda from people who just plain don't like and never even tried it. Not to mention so many studies on both sides of the arguement are skewed and biased. Some people live their whole lives, long and healthy, while also smoking. I knew this one guy that smoked 3 packs a day and only ever got pneumonia once then lived to be 84. Getting pneumoniais bad, but quite livable. People like to think that cigarettes have more control of them than they do. I have smoked for several years and quit cold turkey several times without problems. If you can't breathe or are having kids or keep getting broncitis then just quit. If you are fine and don't want to then don't! Why in a free country can someone not choose a healthy habbit if they don't want to? What is so bad for every one if someone else is smoking? Are we going to antagonize everyone who eats chips next? or dyes their hair? or runs without warming up first? Once people are rid of cigarettes, then what's next? People have heart attacks at age 50 from eating too much red meat and butter and the whole world feels so sorry for him but if someone had lung cancer at that age from smoking he turns into a super villain? Is there a plethora of anti-butter campaigns? You want to really look into how swept people can get with propaganda then just look at how the support for smokers is going down and the support for smoking marijuana has gone up. Pain killers do the same thing and so does other pills but people are so into how cool it sounds for themselves when they support it that they overlook the fact that it is a cigarette with a built in pain killer and appetite inducer. I dare any one to go find several articles on both sides and see how rediculous they are. Smoking sites say there is no evidence that it hurts and that every one will be just fine while anti-smokers say that it kills billions and that you are gauranteed to die directly form smoking . Both are untrue. It is bad, quit when you need to, leave those who don't want to alone. What if everyone was this avid about anti-amphetamines campaign? What about the drugs that actually kills people on a regular basis before they can even graduate high school? You will entirely survive and your kids will entirely survive even if you guys catch a whiff of second hand once a month. People madly exposed to second hand may have probles, probably not a good idea.

    Just take a look at all things logicalally and with as little pre-disposition towards one side as possible and you can see the happy-medium truth. Our lungs are amazing machines that can take toxins and breathe them out or filter through the bloodstream(through the kidneys). If you overfill it it may get clogged then your body will fight it and it will grow into a tumer. You may overwork your lungs and they become sensative to allergens and that would induce asthma's. You work stuff out of your lungs by coughing, heavy breathing and increased heart rates, drinking a lot of water, brething in menthal vapor, etcetera. Bodies heal and hurt, so use your brain when looking at these extreme statistics - 9/21/2010   11:57:32 AM
  • 162
    I have not been a smoker (I'm not sure the occasional clove cigarette that I never actually puffed on waved about while at parties in college counts), thankfully. My mother was a VERY heavy smoker for most of my childhood though--she started when I was two (To try and lose pregnancy weight) and didn't quit until she got pregnant with my younger brothers. Since her pregnancy was high risk, she quit cold turkey. Watching her go through withdrawl was awful; she was rather hard to live with for a few weeks.

    Here's the sad thing: My brothers are twenty now and Mom told me recently she still craves cigarettes sometimes. TWENTY YEARS after she quit!

    She feels bad that she ever started. I had a lot of lung trouble as a child; I was very prone to bronchitis and walking pneumonia, which I used to get EVERY spring and EVERY fall, and twice I got so sick I almost had to be hospitalized for it (we are all very surprised in fact that I don't have asthma). The problem cleared up about two years after she stopped smoking; I've only had bronchitis once since. It's impossible to tell, of course, whether the fact that I grew up in a cloud of tobacco smoke contributed, but my Mom thinks it did. I remind her there's no way to really know for sure and even if we could know, they just didn't know any better then. I don't know if that helps. =\ - 9/21/2010   10:22:52 AM
  • 161
    I'm not a smoker although I did try it a time or two long long ago. I just thought it was too expensive of a habit to get into even at a young age. My brother was a smokeless tobacco addict. He was interested in buying a house. I showed him how much he was spending on the skoal a month - basically a house payment. It took him a while but he quit and bought a house. - 9/21/2010   8:56:21 AM
  • 160
    I am a new quitter 22 months now..and I feel great...this is the second time I quit. The first time was 1976 and I stayed quit until 1983. Blamed my falling off the wagon on life's stresses. Not true I loved to smoke. This last quit will hold, I got sick twice with bronchitis, and I said the last time was it. Time to quit. I quit cold turkey. No slip ups because I know just 1 will lead me back to being a smoker again. Since cigarettes here in the south are almost 5 dollars a pack I can find something else I would rather spend 5 dollars a day on. Gained 10 lbs and have just achieved losing it a I'm down 1 pant size. I am now walking 2 times a day with my Jack Russell/Rat Terrier. We started walking in May at 5:30am now we are out on the road at 515am. We both enjoy our morning and evening walks. I joined Sparkpeople in August and have found some really awesome recipes. - 9/21/2010   8:34:14 AM
  • 159
    I just decided I was going to stop, and stopped. It wasn't easy, but I was 100% determined to do it so I did. There was a price attached that I conciously decided to I was prepared to pay - putting on weight, lots of it, around 30lbs. Which a few years later I have now pretty much lost, thanks to sparkpeople. Cold turkey was the only way to go for me - I think perhaps the most important point was thinking I will not be controlled by a plant! - 9/21/2010   6:01:31 AM
  • 158
    I call myself a part-time smoker. YES, I know that its bad for me, but it does ease the nerves when I'm depressed, and take away the cravings for the whole bag of LAY's potato chips. I'm one of the guilty ones. Sorry - 9/21/2010   1:41:43 AM
  • 157
    To this day, I never understood why peolpe smoked. Just like the little girl said, "It is stinky". Also, it leave your clothes and breath stinky. I just don't anything controlling my body that much until I can not put it down because I need one after the other. - 9/20/2010   8:06:23 PM
  • 156
    I never was a smoker - had a few as a teenager (lees then a pack in total) but decided never again when I nearly had an accident and my first thought was "I need a cigarette." That startled me into realizing that I was on my way to an addiction.

    I lived with sister for nearly 20 years. In 2007 she figured that she spends about $2100 a year on cigarettes but then quoted Robin Williams from some movie when he said "If you are a smoker then be one." and she decided she is a smoker. Maybe one day her morning cough and lack of breath will make her change her mind but right now she uses it as a diet plan - tempted to snack light up instead. Sadly it seems to be working. I really fear for her. - 9/20/2010   6:58:45 PM
  • 155
    Davvick: I was surprised to see that there are still second-hand smoke denialists out there (even more surprised to see them on sparkpeople). Check out: http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/SHSBibl
    iography.pdf
    for 114 pages of bibliography of peer reviewed studies into the effect of cigarette smoke on the body (each page generally lists between 5 and 6 studies/papers). Personally, my father smoked as I was growing up, I saw it as a dirty habit I never wanted to participate in. - 9/20/2010   5:18:47 PM
  • 154
    I started smoking 'socially' in high school at 17. I continued for two years during college. I quit when I was drafted (yeah, I'm at least that old). My Quit Time lasted for three years.

    As our plane landed and we formed up on the tarmac in Vietnam, the Air Base started getting mortared. The Sargent starting the Orientation pointed us to some bunkers and I broke the 100 meter dash record, passing all but one of the guys in front of me - I just couldn't overcome his head start.

    As the other guys got into the bunker, people were lighting up all around me. I sniffed smoke for about a minute, then begged a cigarette. I smoked for 10 years. I was cutting down, from unfiltered Camal's to Marlboro's to Taryton's to Carlton's and was down from 2+ packs a day to 1/2 a pack a day. I was coaching my oldest son in a Little League game when I started to have problems breathing. My brother has Asthma, so I thought it had finally caught up with me. I had my wife take me to a local pharmacy for an OTC inhaler, took a couple of puffs of that, but it didn't work.

    I asked my wife to take me to Southwest Memorial Hospital (in Houston). We were on the way when I told her to stop in a regional hospital in Alief, Texas. My breathing had worsened and I was sweating, big time. My wife got a wheelchair and zipped me into the emergency room, where the 2 Emergency room doc's took me back, paged our family doc and started asking me stupid questions about if I was an alcoholic or druggie.

    My Doc had gone out of town that weekend and asked a personal friend to cover for him. Turned out he was a Cardiologist AND he just happened to have finished visiting one of his patients. He came down to the ER, walked in and started screaming at the ER doc's. "CAN'T YOU SEE THAT MAN IS HAVING A HEART ATTACK! Get an IV, D5w TKO Stat. Get me an EKG!

    My first thought was this guy was a lunatic. I was just 33, I couldn't be having a heart attack. Then the first chest pain hit me. This wasn't the elephant on my chest, this was a knife that came under my breast bone, went up my left shoulder and tore down my right arm to the elbow.

    I started having pains like that about 15 seconds apart and the Doc hollered for morphine. He gave me a shot through the IV, and it lessened the pain for about a minute, during which time he gave me a nitro pill. He gave me another nitro pill when the pain had dropped off to about a six, then when it shot up to an 11+, I got another shot of morphine. It went that way until I had reached the max intake of morphine, then he started on another pain drug. After the second shot of that, I don't remember much because I passed out.

    I awoke three days later in the Cardiac Intensive Care unit. They were still giving me shots for the pain, so I was in and out of it for another day. They cut the pain meds the next day and I could talk coherently. The doc was there and one of his questions was, "Do you smoke?" I answered I had, but I had quit. "When did you quit?" I ask what day it was and said, "Four days ago".

    I haven't smoked in 31 years.

    The good news was that I was a young, strong 33 year old. The bad news was I needed surgery (this was before those cool clot-busting drugs). I had a quadruple by-pass.

    Since then, I've had a quintuple by-pass and a stent. The stent was placed 12 years ago and was checked this year with a 'follow-up' angioplasty. I was "Clean as a whistle".

    Since then, I have become an aggressive anti-smoking advocate. Though it turned out that MY heart problems were the result of fairly heavy exposure to Agent Orange, I can't help but think I aggravated my condition by smoking.

    Seeing how much money I save by NOT smoking now, I'm pretty sure I won't ever go back. - 9/20/2010   5:05:57 PM
  • 153
    I live with a smoker and knew it getting in the relationship and I know in so many ways I am an enabler but then again it's hard to get across to him how difficult it is to curb my eating 'habit' My ex was also a smoker and did drug treatment Use to say nicotene is worst that cocane Maybe it was an excuse tho even after having a heart attack continued to smoke a number of years after. I use to love Mark Twain's comment smoking is easy I've done it a thoousand times - 9/20/2010   4:22:35 PM
  • NBENITEZ
    152
    I decided it was time to quit after 20+ years. So I just stopped. Its been a year and I still have urges but I make a conscious decision every time I have an urge . . . my conscious decision is to be a non smoker. - 9/20/2010   4:02:59 PM
  • DAVVIK
    151
    I love the smell of that smoke. Oh, and that second hand smoke thing is not proven, all information regarding it is from the same thrown out study (because the information was compromised do to the "picking and choosing results), and all deaths that are considered to occur from second hand smoke is based on assumption. I'm not saying it isn't bad for you, I just don't understand why they don't do a true study. - 9/20/2010   2:38:50 PM
  • 150
    I started smoking at 12 and quit a few times one being for a year and a half. Started back when I found out my ex-hubby was gay/bi. Yeah... that'll make anybody start, lol. My new hubby is a non-smoker (and not gay) lol and he never hounded me but I started having breathing problems. I was only 27 when this started. I reluctantly quit. I'll be honest... I absolutely LOVE to smoke. I HATE the smell and most nights after coming home from a bar I'd take a shower to get the smell off me, lol. Weird since I smoked but I love the act of doing it. I struggle everyday since I quit. It will be 1 year in November and not one day has went by that I don't want one. I'm almost 30 and don't have much time to try for kids, we want about 3, and I want them healthy and I want to be healthy to see my grandbabies. It's just not worth it. I have family who barely make their bills but they'll buy those ciggs. We're able to take a beach trip this year with all the money I've saved. A week too! :-D - 9/20/2010   12:13:54 PM
  • 149
    I started smoking regularly when I was 15 and smoked for 13 years. I tried to quit many times but really 'enjoyed' it at the time. The difference was I finally decided enough was enough and really WANTED to quit. When you really want something you can do it. Wanting it involves knowing yourself. For example, I did not drink alcohol and did not hang around people who smoked. I didn't see some close friends for about 2 months until I felt confident that I would not light up. - 9/20/2010   11:53:30 AM
  • 148
    Both my parents smoked when I was young. When I was about 5, I said I wanted to smoke so my mom handed me a lit cigarette and told me to sip it in like soup. After I recovered from rolling around on the floor trying to catch my breath, I couldn't understand why anyone would want to do that. In high school, I briefly succumbed to smoking but never made it out of the bathroom. That was just about when the first warnings came out about smoking. - 9/20/2010   9:58:05 AM
  • 147
    I work at a college and am totally amazed at the young people who are smoking. - 9/20/2010   9:34:07 AM
  • 146
    I grew up in a family of smokers--dad, mom, brothers, sisters. I experimented in high school and smoked some in college, but never developed the habit. I felt "dirty" when smoking--bad breath, smelling like smoke--and often had to brush teeth and shower after smoking. So, it never really became a habit.
    My dad quit "cold turkey" when I was in high school. He was quite upset when none of us noticed right away!! But, I was so glad. My sister and brother-in-law quit several years ago. My mother had a hard time...even after she was diagnosed with COPD, she still smoked...turning off her oxygen to light up!!!!
    Finally, she went to a hypnotist and QUIT!!!! That was about FIVE years ago!! I was so happy for her.
    I have a brother and sister (who is living with Dad and Mom again) who still smoke. But, I pray that they will quit, too!!
    I "fuss" at people around me who smoke--in a loving way. I know how HARD it can be to quit--but, I know the health benefits of quitting NOW vs. continuing to smoke. Here's to all you who may be trying to quit...praying you succeed!!! - 9/20/2010   9:20:05 AM
  • 145
    Wow, a pack of smokes only $5.00? Here in Canada it's $12.00 or so for a pack (of 25, in Manitoba - other provinces will vary due to different tax rates).

    I'm going on 4 years as a non-smoker, and couldn't be happier about it. The cravings come from time to time - but the knowledge that I am healthier for not smoking stays forever. - 9/20/2010   9:18:35 AM
  • 144
    This coming Wednesday will be eight years since I quit smoking cold turkey! My husband struggles with quitting, but I try to be supportive and not nagging about it. You can recite all the statistics you want about disease and how horrible smoking is, but that tends to make smokers just want to smoke more. It's a personal decision to quit. If you really want to help someone quit, let them know you'll be there for them when they make the decision to stop smoking. - 9/20/2010   9:03:38 AM
  • MAGICWIZARD8
    143
    Not surprised. Sorry. People are just plain ignorant of the wisdom around them.... - 9/20/2010   9:02:17 AM
  • LOLO2CHAMP
    142
    I smoked. I stopped each time I was pregnant and started within 1 year after each birth. I finally quit for good over a year ago - I don't keep track of how long it has been and even though I hate the smell of smoke - I still wish I could do it at times. It is such an addicting habit and I only quit because I wanted to live longer and be able to breathe. - 9/20/2010   8:44:09 AM
  • 141
    I was a smoker. Had stopped and started numerous times over the years. Watched my brother suffer going through cancer treatments and being told I had a spot on my own lung. Sadly my brother passed away a couple of years ago , but the spot on my lungs were found to be nothing to be concerned about, thank you God!!. I put them in the trash can outside the hospital.....that was over a year ago. THIS time I think it will stick since I have not had an urge for them once since then.....and the smell does not entice me, just makes me wonder why I ever did it in the first place - 9/20/2010   8:08:43 AM
  • 140
    I am a former smoker. I started at 18 to fit in with my finance and friends. I smoked a two packs a week for six years. I quit when my husband walked out the door for six months. My grandpa died and I restarted for six months. A new boyfriend asked to quit so he could date me. I quit again. We have been married for 14 years and I have been a nonsmoker for 16 years. I have was shocked to discover I have asthma and smoke really sets off the coughing! I mainly smoked when I was stressed out when I used to smoke. My dad and my one brother both died from lung cancer. I still get cravings to smoke but don't give in.
    I came from a poorer county in Ohio orginally and smoking and drinking got worse as the economy got worse and coal mining jobs were lost in the 1980's. As times got tough, smoking and drinking gets more prevalent it seems. Smoking is just a stress buster to keep from overeating,etc. where poverty is the worst. I grew up with lots of smokers in my family. - 9/20/2010   2:52:54 AM
  • 139
    I started smoking when I was in seventh grade. By the time I was in ninth grade, I was smoking more than two packs a day. When I think back on it, I can't believe my parents didn't put a stop to it even though they smoked. Financially it wasn't the burden it is today. I can remember my dad giving me a dollar to get a soda with lunch and another after school and cigarettes were 50 cents a pack in North Carolina at the time so I skipped a soda.

    I smoked off and on (mostly ON) until spring of 2009. I'd quit dozens of times. The most helpful thing for me had always been nicotine gum. I am genuinely addicted to nicotine. Before last spring, the longest I'd gone without smoking was 3 years. But I am extremely confident I will never smoke again.

    A friend of mine was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. I hadn't seen her in awhile and I'd planned to try and buddy-up to quit with her. I ran into her one day and I thought, WOW, she looks great! I told her so. I couldn't stop raving about how great she looked. She was literally glowing, her skin tone had become so much healthier looking. Her hair looked fantastic. She'd even lost weight! I wouldn't let her get a word in edgewise. I almost shouted, "I know what it is! You've quit smoking! Oh My God you look so great!!! How do you feel? how did you do it? I was going to ask if you'd be my quitting buddy! But you've beaten me to it!"

    That's when she told me that yes she had quit smoking and yes she had lost weight. But its not for the great reasons I thought. She told me that in the last few months since we'd seen each other in person she'd been diagnosed with lung cancer and had been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. That's why she'd lost weight and that that's why her hair looked so great - it was a wig. We'd been communicating by email for a few months since we hadn't seen each other in person and she wanted to tell me in person.

    I was shocked. Anyway, her treatment continued and went well. She was active and regained her health to a level she'd really not had in 20 years, even though she had an oxygen tank with her a lot. We talked a lot about her smoking and her diagnosis over the months. Her spirit was amazing. The treatments had rid her of the lung cancer and she never shied from talking to people about her illness and her treatments. She told me that she wasn't sure if she should tell the students she encountered about what was really going on with her but that she had decided that if telling her story would get even one of them to quit before they got sick like her that it was worth it.

    She got sick in April 2010 and died in a matter of days. The cancer was gone from her lungs but had found other places to hide and grow. I think I've thought about having a cigarette twice since she died but I really feel like it would make her death for nothing if I light up again. I don't know if anyone else she touched will be the "one who quit" so that it was worth it for her. But I know that if I don't light up again, I can be. - 9/20/2010   12:19:46 AM
  • 138
    I quit smoking June 1, 2005. I woke up from surgery and couldn't breathe and it scared me. After being in the hospital and unable to smoke for a few days, I decided when I got home that each day I would try and not smoke just one more day. Eventually I didn't have to think about it or try, but for insurance, I went out and bought a new vehicle so I couldn't afford to pick up the habit again.

    I loved smoking, but being able to breathe is a better choice. - 9/19/2010   11:07:39 PM
  • 137
    I started smoking when I was a kid (16) because it was what my friends were doing and in that crowd, it was "cool". I gradually began to realize what a nasty habit it was, but I was addicted. By the time I turned 20, I knew that I did NOT want to be a smoker all my life and I found the motivation to quit -- cold turkey. But in my early 30's, with the stress of raising two young children on a minimal income and of trying to make a difficult marriage work, I became a "closet" smoker... mostly hiding the occasional habit from my kids. I never smoked at home or when they were with me. I finally quit when I was 39 -- again, cold turkey, however I found it much harder than the first time, as I was now a single parent and still had a great deal of stress in my life. Still, it was more than worth the effort and I know I will never start smoking again.

    My children are now young adults and the older one smokes (despite the fact that I hid my habit from my kids, they figured out that I was smoking -- and they knew it long before I realized they knew it). He knows I think it's a nasty habit, but I know my opinion about that probably isn't worth much to him, since I used to smoke myself. And I feel that my previous smoking habit propbably has at least some bearing on the fact that he smokes... I truly feel guilty and remorseful about that!

    It is youth who are most at risk for starting the aweful habit of smoking for a number of reasons. "Kids" (teenagers and young adults) believe they are invincible. They are far more suceptible to peer pressure. They also figure they can quit before it's too late (I did), but cigarettes are HUGELY addictive, and life can be stressful! Smoking often has the effect of making people feel more relaxed and relieving some of their stress. Plus, because of the intense addiction and the HABIT of smoking, it is difficult and stressful in and of itself to quit. Often times those realities trump the expense of smoking and the knowledge that it is bad for us. It's a catch-22, and it takes tremendous willpower to quit!

    Thank you for this blog... the realities and the politics of tobacco use are certainly not "simple" issues! - 9/19/2010   5:04:30 PM
  • 136
    As a former smoker who started smoking from peer pressure back in the 60's, I understand how hard it is to quit. Quitting is entirely mental in my opinion. When you're ready, you will. As a former Tobacco prevention coordinator for a local health department, I spent endless hours looking for new ways to help people understand their addiction and learn how to help themselves. I can't stand it when someone is nasty to someone who smokes. They should look in the mirror and say outload, judge not lest I be judged. Did they ever think they may have habits themselves that are very annoying to those around them? I doubt it! But if you smoke you are treated like a lower class human being. It's just not right. I guarantee that a smoker is treated differently before and after they've been a smoker....but they are still the same person, just healthier. And....kudos to anyone who can quit...it takes guts. I've been smoke free for 14 years, 9 months and 3 days.....not that I'm counting....but I never say never about anything because we don't know what tomorrow will bring or what triggers life will pull....so lighten up and be kind to a smoker....you may be surprised that your good treatment of them might be just what they need to try quitting. No one wants to be bullied into doing anything. think about it. - 9/19/2010   4:38:46 PM
  • RHYNIC
    135
    I am not surprised by those numbers at all. I am in Canada and I suspect the results would be the same for Canadian. The people I know who are smokers have no money. One co-worker smokes a lot and the other day didn't eat lunch because he had no money to buy it and didn't know how he would get back home because the gas light in his car was on! Really - Still he would rather die then quick smoking. it's so hard to understand. - 9/19/2010   3:19:26 PM
  • 134
    I smoked for 25 years. Tomorrow 9/20/2010 I will be smoke free for two months. It took 6 months of careful consideration and with the support of my doctor, friends, family (and a 5 week supply of Chantix started in 7/2010), I am now smoke free. Cigarettes in Chicago are $9 a pack. I am diligent about putting aside $$$ that I would have used on cigarettes and put that aside every week. I can honestly say though - quitting smoking has been, by far, the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Because of that, I will not go back.....so tough! - 9/19/2010   2:57:40 PM
  • 133
    For those of you whom have quit, wonderful. Keep up the good work. For those of you who haven't and have kids, keep trying. I am in my 30's and still fight respiratory difficulties secondary to 20 years of high levels of second hand smoke. Now, when I even get around someone who has been smoking and I can smell it and it turns my stomach. - 9/19/2010   12:35:41 PM
  • WONDERWOMAN575
    132
    After 40 yrs of smoking I have not smoked for the past 6 weeks. I know that is not alot in comparison but it is the longest I have ever gone without a cigarette. I was starting to have some health problems and did not like it. I "played" at quiting for awhile,smoking less and using chantix. None of these worked for me. I finally decided there would never be a right time to quit and I would never just wake up and not want to smoke. Therefore I decided my time was now. I used the patch for about 3 days but have been without anything since then. I never thought I would get to this point. I am proud of myself every single day. - 9/19/2010   11:54:06 AM
  • 131
    I started smoking in college. At first it was because I'd had too much to drink and decided I just wanted to try it. (My grandparents smoked, and I was always harping on them to quit when I was younger, so why I thought I needed to try, I don't know!) Then I would keep a pack around and only smoke on weekends when I'd party, or when I'd make the 8 hour drive home to visit. It just escalated from there. I've quit more times than I care to count, I've tried cold turkey, gum, patches (for a day and found I'm allergic to the adhesive), Zyban (twice, both times I was pregnant), and FINALLY, after my THIRD time on Chantix, I feel like I might truly be done. I haven't had so much as a puff in 2 whole months. The smell now makes me sick to my stomach.

    I have an awesome doc who never harps on me about anything, as he knows I know what's good for me and realizes I'm never going to do anything until I'm ready. He has always said, "When you're ready, call." In late May of this year I had to make three trips upstairs at the office. After the third trip, I realized my chest hurt and I couldn't breathe. I looked at the pack of cigarettes sticking out of my purse and realized since my "usual" brand had jumped to almost $8/pack, I was now smoking a generic brand I didn't even like - and even they were almost $7/pack! Enough was enough. I picked up the phone, called my doc, and said, "Call it in." That was just before Memorial Day. I slipped up a few times when I found myself in social situations where I normally would have smoked and had one or two. But for the last two months, it hasn't mattered where I'm at, or who I'm around. I just DON'T do it. I still have cravings, but they are usually when I'm by myself or at work (which, since I'm the only one there most of the day, is still when I'm by myself). I don't crave them when I'm around other smokers anymore. Instead, I have to keep my distance because I can't stand the smell. - 9/19/2010   11:44:02 AM
  • 130
    I was raised by my mother, a smoker and was married to a smoker. My mother went into a rage when I tried to hide her fix but ultimately it was I who took her to a doctor who was willing to save her voice box when she was diagnosed with epiglottal cancer. She did stop after that.

    It was a disgusting habit. I hated her smoking. I avoid being around others who are smoking. New York passed a law prohibiting smoking is restaurants. Although there was an initial uproar, it is accepted now. Now, they are working on a law to prohibit smoking in public parks. I think this is great although I question whether it infringes upon the smokers' personal rights. - 9/19/2010   11:31:13 AM
  • 129
    I am not a smoker but everyone in my family smokes. My mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles and even a few of my cousins. I do not like the smell. My dad died from COPD. It was not a fun way to watch someone die. I worry about all the second hand smoke I took in as a child and try to stay healthy and aware because I do not want to die the same way as my Dad. - 9/19/2010   10:48:33 AM
  • 128
    I smoked on and off for 8 years. I tried gum, the patch and being hypnotized. Finally when I found out I was pregnant I stopped cold turkey because I felt it was unfair seeing that my baby didn't have a choice. Every time I have a craving, because I still do, I think about all of the kids I went to school with that smelled like smoke. I don't want my son to be stinky for something he has no control over. - 9/19/2010   10:23:16 AM
  • MYKAMIR
    127
    I have been smoke free for over 25 years! In 1985 I decided "enough is enough" and, while I had stopped for 4 years at one time, this last time was far more difficult.
    At this time there were not alot of tools available (patches, gum, etc.)... so I tried changing my routine.
    Every day I moved my first cigarette back by 10 minutes or so. Daily making very small adjustments to my routine, I eventually came to a point where I was having my first cigarette at 8:00 pm! It took some time time of course, but it worked! At that point it became very easy to walk away from them all together!
    - 9/19/2010   8:58:45 AM

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