It’s taken some time to discover those dangers. Or, perhaps we should say that smoking has taken some time to develop them.
Fact: Before World War I, when lung cancer was considered to be a rare disease, an American doctor, Isaac Adler, MD. was first to suggest that lung cancer is related to smoking.
Today, according to statistics provided by the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Smoking causes coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Cancer, among the first diseases related to smoking, is the second leading cause of death. And about 90 percent of all deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease are attributable to cigarette smoking.
The CDC says smoking is the nation’s leading cause of preventable death.
They add that in the U.S. the adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 438,000 deaths a year. That’s nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths or more than the deaths from drugs, alcohol, motor vehicle injuries, suicide and murders. That’s as of January 2008.
Another look. The main health risks in tobacco are diseases of the cardiovascular system (heart diseases and heart attacks), diseases of the respiratory tract, and cancer, particularly lung cancer and cancers of the larynx and tongue.
And that is why Quay County’s ASAP Coalition brought Curtis Ansley to Tucumcari. He spoke on Monday and Tuesday to speak to students in Logan, Tucumcari and San Jon schools.
“You are not cooler if you know how to take a dip or smoke a cigarette,” said Ansley, who endured an 11-hour surgery to remove cancer from his mouth after several years of dipping.
Chewing tobacco, with a dozen or more flavors, is gaining popularity. Ansley said. And it is gaining more popularity with young girls. They’ve learned that their some country singing stars chew and now think it’s cool, Ansley said.
A visible scar on the right side of his face, Ansley showed photos that were taken during his surgery.
Some boys and girls at the Tucumcari presentation covered their eyes, and there were some deep breaths and squirming.
“I hope I scare enough kids to quit,” Ansley said. “I’ve had kids hand over their cans to me. That’s what makes it worth for me to talk to the kids.”
Even though tobacco has been smoked and chewed for thousands of years, it’s during the last 100 years that the dangers of smoking have developed.
Cued by articles that were anti-smoking, the cigarette manufacturers began to add filter tips to some of their brands, calling them “safer.” They weren’t.
And finally, it was in 1964, the Surgeon General of the United States released its report on Smoking and Health. The report led to warning labels on cigarette packs and restrictions on tobacco advertising, particularly on advertising that would reach children.
Cigarette sales have gone down. Cigarette sales in 2005 were 4.2 percent less than in 2004 just 387 billion. And that’s in spite of the industry’s past increase in spending for advertising and promotion, from $10 billion in 2000 to $11 billion in 2001.
So while smoking is declining, a massive number of Americans and others worldwide are continuing to smoke, continuing to shorten their lives.
No, it isn’t easy to quit smoking. But it can be done. And, at least in New Mexico, you can’t infect others with your secondary smoke.
Not since, March 14, 2007, when Gov. Bill Richardson signed broad smoke-free legislation. The ban, with some exceptions, covers workplaces, bars, restaurants and stores.
Neither smoking or chewing are cool.
Chelle Delaney is associate publisher of the Quay County Sun. she can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 461-1952.