For the most part, I am about teaching my daughters things about life, not necessarily warning them. However, I have always been about being an open door, if they want to ask me anything, I will give them the truth. For ten years, my daughters have never seen me smoke a cigarette (or anything), nor their mother. In fact, intentionally, we shielded them not just from the influences of smoking, but also the second hand smoke. So neither of my daughters really have any concept of what smoking is, or how bad it is for you.
On a recent trip with my daughters, a radio ad came on for “electronic cigarettes”. For smokers, this is supposed to be the next best thing since sliced bread because for years smokers have had to be inconvenienced by smoking restrictions, whether at work or at restaurants, with the battle cry always being the same, the dangers of second hand smoke. I am not going to get off on a rant here about e-cigarettes because I know nothing about them other than I do still see some sort of release from the person inhaling them, which clearly means something is going into the person inhaling. And of course, whatever is being inhaled has to solve the addiction that caused the person to choose the e-cigarette. Look, some smokers chose chewing tobacco so as not to have to hear complaints about smoking. But guess what, the people still got the toxins, and in many cases, simply traded one form of cancer for another. These new cigarettes are just that, new. They are too new to know the long term effects.
Anyway, the gist of the radio commercial was to glorify and make it acceptable to still be a smoker.
As my oldest listened to this commercial, she is aware of two people in my life that smoke, my mother and my father. All too familiar to my daughters, is my father’s situation. A smoker of over 50 years, this past year he lost half of his lung. He had been told to expect to lose the entire lung. The tumor that had been located was in such a bad position, this looked like the only possible solution for a cure for my father. However, once inside, the doctors discovered that my father had emphysema so bad in both lungs, he would never have survived the entire lung being removed. Following the surgery, he went through chemo, and currently is undergoing radiation treatments.
So my oldest asked me why, if smoking is so bad for you, why do it? And I told her to ask my father. And I would bet any amount of money that given what my father has had to endure this year, he would give anything to have turned back time, and never lit that first cigarette, no matter how cool it made him look. He tried several times to quit using various methods and failed every time. Even a major heart attack was not enough to convince him. But my father knows just how serious a diagnosis of lung cancer is.
And though my parents are divorced, my mother also understands this, an will be trying to quit, yet again. I do not bug either of my parents about this as they are grown adults. And I do know that the last thing a smoker wants to hear as they attempt to quit, is frequent congratulations on how long it has been since they quit. But she has made January 1st her next attempt to quit smoking.
I am glad that my daughters seem to have a strong concept of just how bad smoking is for a person. In time, very soon I would guess, they will learn in their health class just exactly how bad it is. Then it will be about surviving peer pressure to start smoking. But ask any cancer patient, if there is anything that they could have done, not eaten, not inhaled, any decision that could have been different to have not resulted in a diagnosis of cancer, we would take that opportunity.
Please understand, this post is not about judgment at all. If you are reading this, you are an educated person and if you have chosen to be a smoker, you know the risks. You do not need me, or anyone else reminding you. And if you have quit, I am happy for you.
But there is one person that I personally know who has taken up smoking recently, and that is unfortunate. And ask anyone who has had to deal with cancer themselves, they will tell you how sad they are at the thought. It is not only going to hurt this person, but those around this person as well. Because for all the people who choose not to smoke, we do it because we understand the risks, and they are not worth it.
For my father, it is too late for a resolution to quit smoking. For my mother, I am hoping not. But for this other person, my wish is that you would rethink this decision. It is going to hurt a lot of other people, emotionally and perhaps physically.