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Kids, think before lighting up

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POSTED: August 4, 2014 7:00 p.m.

You are under 16 years old. You and your buddies have a system worked out. Everyone chips in some of their lunch money to buy a pack of cigarettes. There is a designated “keeper of the pack.”
Cigarettes in hand, you are now cool dudes. You are winners. Wrong! You are losers. You have just begun your journey into a life of dependency on one of the most insidious products of our time, cigarettes. You can inhale! You can blow smoke rings! You can blow smoke out your nose. So what?
There have been countless numbers before you who followed the same path. You are on your way to becoming as pitifully addicted as they are. You are the newest member of a long line of suckers.
It’s not marijuana, it’s not cocaine, it’s not a drug.
But yes it is. Nicotine is an addictive drug. Tobacco companies intentionally design cigarettes to give you a “super boost” of nicotine on the first few draws off a cigarette.
That first drag is the homerun. After that the kick disappears and the only solution is to light up another cigarette. They meticulously design their product to hook you and then keep you hooked.
If you coat your lungs by inhaling the smoke from burning poison ivy and get the smoke on your skin, you will be the most miserable person on the face of the earth for a very long time but it probably won’t kill you. When you burn tobacco it produces carcinogens. Carcinogens will kill you.
I would imagine that in the beginning if you dried out a leaf of tobacco and molded it into some form that could be smoked or chewed, it probably wasn’t all that bad. I really don’t know. Considering the fact that Coca Cola once had cocaine as part of it’s formula, we know that things can really change over time. We do know that if it were possible for you to inhale the nicotine from three modern day cigarettes at the same time it could possibly stop your heart.
Lets’ move on. You are over 30. You have been smoking for a long time. There are countless reasons why you smoke. All of which, to you, are perfectly rational reasons.
Above all, it is your Constitutional right.
I’ve heard that one. Actually, you are the person who, in the middle of a work day, is puffing away with an anxious look on your face, constantly checking your watch while you stand in the street in the rain, the heat and the cold. You are the social outcast because smoking is no longer allowed in the building or around your fellow workers.
The proof that smoking is not only a deadly habit for you but for those around you is unquestionable.
Included in a modern formula for the production of cigarettes we have:
Acetone – found in nail polish remover. Acetic Acid –  an ingredient in hair dye. Ammonia – a common household cleaner. Arsenic – used in rat poison. Benzene – found in rubber cement. Butane – used in lighter fluid. Cadmium – active component in battery acid. Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes. Formaldehyde – embalming fluid. Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid. Lead – used in batteries. Naphthalene – an ingredient in moth balls. Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel. Nicotine – used as insecticide. Tar – material for paving roads. Toluene - used to manufacture paint.
 Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. It diminishes a person’s health in a slow, insidious and silent way. Your quality of life is measurably diminished by the use of tobacco.
If you are an addicted smoker, which pretty well describes anyone who smokes, you plan your life around cigarettes. You panic if your schedule limits access to cigarettes. You are a prisoner of your tobacco habit. Your clothes stink. Your car stinks, your house stinks.
But then it is your constitutional right, so stink on.
The severe effect of smoking on quality of life is so insidiously smooth in its progress that you might hardly notice it. It’s like a melanoma skin cancer. By the time you discover it, it might be too late.
According to a recent article by Jeremy Berlin in National Geographic, going back to the forties, almost 50 percent of Americans used to smoke. Today 18 percent of the population smokes.
Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and death from cancer. It causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.
May I add that it affects your hair follicles, your vision and your skin.
The first two layers of your skin are called the epidermis and dermis. Inhaled smoke along with drifting smoke from a cigarette deeply damages your skin. There is the woman in her 30s who looks drawn, unhealthy and much older. There are men with the same problem. They smoke. They have raspy voices, congestion and chronic cough due to the constant irritation of the nicotine on their vocal cords and lungs. Couldn’t be the cigarettes, must be a cold coming on or the pollen or the weather.
Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke, aortic aneurysm, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It causes asthma, hip fractures and cataracts.
Smokers  are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia and other airway infections.
A pregnant smoker is at higher risk of having her baby born too early and with an abnormally low birth weight. A woman who smokes during or after pregnancy increases her infant’s risk of death from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Men who smoke are at greater risk of erectile dysfunction.
Smoking restricts blood vessels and blood flow. Actually it is absolutely amazing how complete nicotine and smoking is in its attack on the human body.
Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke cause more than 440,000 premature deaths each year in the United States. Of these premature deaths, about 40 percent are from cancer, 35 percent are from heart disease and stroke, and 25 percent are from lung disease. Smoking is the leading cause of premature, preventable death in this country.
Now about the “Constitutional right” part.
I guess that argument is based on the phrase, “pursuit of happiness.”
I’m “cough” happy, “cough.” As complex and far reaching as the problem is, the best estimates of the cost of smoking passed directly to tax payers is somewhere between $50 and $70 billion tax dollars a year paid out thru Medicare, Medicaid, etc.
You can add the elevated cost of VA medical expenses for treatment of people who have smoked themselves sick. Premiums on private health and life insurance take smoking into consideration when establishing everyone’s rates whether you smoke or not.
According to National Geographic’s August edition, the overall cost in medical treatment and lost production is $300 billion a year now.
Smoke that one over.
I am a former smoker. I started smoking at age 12. I probably averaged a pack a day for the next 47 or 48 years. I quit 15 years ago.
I sat down one day and started counting on my fingers. My father died of lung problems directly related to smoking. Two of my sisters died of lung cancer, both heavy smokers. One sister-in-law, a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer.
Her husband died of smoking related heart problems. Another brother-in-law, a heavy smoker, died of heart failure. His wife, my sister-in-law, has a hole in her throat because of throat cancer related to smoking.
She used to be a vivacious person, active in the community and very outspoken on social and political issues of the day. She doesn’t talk much anymore and to listen to her can be a painful experience for both her and her listener. Since her diet is seriously affected by her throat problem she cannot enjoy many different foods which leads to additional problems from lack of proper nutrition.
Collateral damage is a measurable aspect of the effects of smoking on the smoker and those around them. With the exception of my father, all of these deaths occurred within a five-year period.
The advent of filtered cigarettes gave smokers a false sense of security. The scientific fact, according to National Geographic, is that ventilated filters have made cigarettes more deadly.
Heavy smokers may not realize how compromised their quality of life really is. They have become accustomed to feeling bad as a natural condition. They probably don’t give much thought to how much better they would feel and how much more they would get out of life, physically, mentally and financially, were they not chained to the narcotic called nicotine, along with the 600 additives that go into the product.
There are many reasons to stop smoking. There are many more reasons to keep smoking.
Bad day, bad night, bad hour, bad minute, whatever. You can always find a good excuse to light up anytime, anywhere.
To quit is not easy. Nicotine is considered to be more addictive than cocaine! Quitting can require a complete change in life style. I cancelled my membership in several organizations, completely changed my social schedule and lost a couple of friends when I quit smoking. Anywhere that there was smoking allowed you would not find me. You could not smoke in my home or in my car. I figured my health and my obligation to my loved ones was more important than anyone’s smoking habit.
What If you quit smoking and started putting the cost of those cigarettes into an investment tool every year?
It is said that Albert Einstein was once asked what he thought was the most powerful force on the face of the earth. One would assume that he would have talked about nuclear fusion or something of that order. His answer was, “Compounded interest.” That is interest earned on interest already paid and accumulating in your investment account. You have this invisible entity working for you and bringing income into your household. It’s like having someone else working and giving you all of their paycheck.
According to National Geographic’s August issue, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes today is about $5.61 day. A pack a day plus is pretty standard. $5 times 365 days equals $1,825 a year. Husband and wife smoke? $3,650 minimum.
Take $300 or more dollars normally spent on cigarettes in a month and put it in an investment account. Do that for twenty years at an average interest rate of 5 percent. The rate will be much higher than that in years to come, along with the fact that a pack of cigarettes will be in the $10 range. At the end of 20 years you will have a minimum nest egg of $148,223.27! That is like giving yourself a $7,000 a year retroactive raise! What if you and your spouse are smoking four packs a day! That’s over $300,000 in twenty years! Go to 40 years and you are now approaching $750,000!
Smoke that one over.
If you believe that Albert Einstein was right about compounded interest being the most powerful force on the earth, then when you borrow money and pay interest you have just turned the most powerful force on the face of the earth against yourself!
Financial worries is one of the top five reasons to smoke!
Stop smoking, save the money. Get rich, not sick.

Roy Hubbard of Bryan County is a former Green Beret who spends much of his time now advocating for the environment and smaller, better government.

 

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