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All People > Thomas3.20.2010 > Thomas3.20.2010 Blog > 2015 > June

Smokeless tobacco and, more recently, e-cigarettes have been promoted as a harm reduction strategy for smokers who are "unable or unwilling to quit." The strategy, embraced by both industry and some public health advocates, is based on the assumption that as smoking declines overall, only those who cannot quit will remain. A new study by researchers at UC San Francisco has found just the opposite.


The researchers analyzed survey data spanning 18 years in the United States and six years in the European Union. They found that, contrary to the prevailing assumptions, as the fraction of the population that smoked declined, the remaining smokers actually smoked less and were more likely to quit than to stick with it. The authors said their findings challenge the need to promote new forms of nicotine delivery, such as e-cigarettes, since the smoking population continues to quit smokingas a result of proven policies and interventions.

The paper, titled, "The smoking population in the USA and the EU is softening not hardening," appears online in the June 24, 2015 issue of the journal Tobacco Control.

The concept of harm reduction, first proposed in the 1970s, was based on the theory that as smoking prevalence declines, the remaining "hard core" smokers will be less likely or able to quit smoking, a process called hardening. The study found that the population is actually softening.

"The fact that the smoking population is softening has important implications for public health policy," said senior author Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, the American Legacy Foundation Distinguished Professor of Tobacco Control at UCSF and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. "These results suggest that current tobacco control policies have been leading to softening of the smoking population without the need to promote new recreational nicotine products like e-cigarettes."

The paper reported that for each 1 percent drop in the fraction of the population that smoked, the number of smokers who tried to quit increased by 0.6 percent in the United States and remained stable in Europe. They also showed that the percentage of U.S. smokers who quit increased by 1.13 percent, while daily cigarette consumption among remaining smokers dropped by 0.32 cigarettes in the United States and 0.22 cigarettes in Europe. Overall U.S. cigarette consumption levels dropped over time, while those associations remained stable in Europe.

The findings are significant, said Margarete C. Kulik, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at the Center and first author of the paper, because e-cigarettes are not harmless. A recent review of the science on e-cigarettes by UCSF researchers reported that e-cigarette emissions contain both nicotine and other toxins, such as formaldehyde, and are associated with significantly lower odds of quitting cigarettes and with high levels of dual use - smoking both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes - among adults and youth.

The takeaway, Kulik said, is that the current policies have been working, including strong anti-tobacco media, smokefree laws and increased tobacco taxes. As a result, smoking prevalence has declined and the smoking population has become more likely to quit smoking altogether.

"We show that there is no real need to distribute e-cigarettes as part of a tobacco policy package because the smoking population is softening," she said. "Tobacco control policies should continue to move the population down these softening curves rather than changing policies to promote new forms of nicotine delivery, especially ones like e-cigarettes that are very appealing to children."


Need a Pick-Me-Up?

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jun 26, 2015


Please stop by Positive Affirmations for Success! Join in and share inspiration!

Animals, including human animals, often find themselves in a state of desire. Desire, the felt motivation to pursue a goal, is how nature gets us to go after the things we need: food, sex, shelter, social status, cigarettes. Wait a minute … cigarettes?

Like many other chemical candidates for the wayward human appetite, tobacco attracts. We desire it, despite its bad press. And as a result, it is one of the worst public health disasters the world has ever encountered.

Tobacco contains nicotine, which is “physically addictive” – meaning we experience a degree of relief and sometimes pleasure when we take it, and when we stop we experience physical discomfort. The same is true of heroin, of course, but that infamous drug is less deadly than nicotine.

The pleasure provided by nicotine is complicated. Nicotine molecules find their way to receptors (little harbours) on several types of brain cells. The first type processes acetylcholine, one of the brain’s main neurochemicals. Acetylcholine makes us more alert and focused, it powers consciousness itself – so nicotine enhances our sense of being alive, if only slightly. The second type of brain cell colonised by nicotine processes dopamine, the neurochemical that causes us to feel attraction and anticipation. Dopamine is a well-known culprit in all kinds of addictions. It’s been linked with pleasure conventionally, but its main function is to promote desire and goal pursuit rather than pleasure per se. In fact, nicotine receptors are scattered all over the brain, and they turn up the tap on other neurochemicals, in charge of every brain state from arousal to relaxation.

As with other addictive drugs, the comforts of nicotine are outweighed by the discomforts attendant on quitting. All those receptors in all those regions grow accustomed to their nicotine diet after several months. They adjust to that diet, so they are relatively starved when it’s suddenly withdrawn. The positives rebound into proportional negatives – and we feel that backlash in our bodies as they receive distress signals from our brains. Just as nicotine makes us feel good in subtle and complex ways, nicotine withdrawal makes us miserable in subtle and complex ways. That may be why, compared to other drugs, nicotine is the hardest to kick. Gene Heyman, an American addiction researcher, compiled epidemiological data on the average time to quit several drugs, and here are his surprising findings:


With the onset of dependence as the start date, half of those ever addicted to cocaine had quit using this drug at clinically significant levels by year four, and the half-life for marijuana dependence was six years. In contrast, alcohol and cigarette dependence had much longer half-lives. For alcohol, the 50% remission mark was not reached until year 16, and for cigarettes, it took on average 30 years for dependent smokers to quit. (GM Heyman, Quitting drugs: Quantitative and qualitative features. Annual Review or Clinical Psychology, 2013)

Thirty years (on average)! More than seven times longer than it takes to quit cocaine. That would be a really good reason not to start.

Physical addiction, with its attendant pleasures and risks, is just one limb of a much bigger elephant, and it takes quite a few blind men to get the whole picture. My research and writing has focused on the psychological side of addiction instead. Psychological addiction is far more insidious than physical addiction. For one thing it explains why people continue to “relapse” long after they are physically free of a drug. It also explains why drugs that don’t cause withdrawal symptoms can easily addict. These include cocaine, marijuana and alcohol (which only causes rebound symptoms when large quantities are consumed for lengthy periods). Then there are those addictions that don’t involve substances at all: gambling, sex addiction, **** addiction, internet addiction (now classed as a psychiatric ailment) and of course eating disorders, which can be harder to kick than heroin. So how does addiction work if it doesn’t rely on physical dependency?

The first thing to realise is that psychological addiction is physical too: psychological states depend on brain states, and the brain is obviously a physical entity. Second, the psychological state of craving is the lynch pin of relapse. As any addict will tell you, persistent craving is like an acid that eats through resolve and good sense. So how does craving work, and what sort of brain mechanisms support it? Craving is just intense, focused desire, and the neural engines of desire have been fine-tuned over hundreds of millions of years of evolution. We need desire in order to survive. And we experience craving ubiquitously: when we fall in love, watch our favourite team get the ball, smell someone’s barbecue, or pray to our preferred deity. Unlike withdrawal symptoms, craving is natural; but craving can easily get stuck, and that’s the problem when it comes to addiction.


Each time that cycle of wanting, getting and losing is repeated, a network of connections is reinforced in your brain

Craving, whether for a person, a team, a smoke or an illicit drug, becomes an entrenched habit through repeated cycles of desire, acquisition and loss. You want it, you get it, then it’s gone. Your team loses, your lover storms off and drugs run out. (A nicotine rush is remarkably short-lived, which might help explain why smoking digs its ruts so deeply.) Each time that cycle of wanting, getting and losing is repeated, a network of connections is reinforced in your brain. Acute focus, fuelled by desire, grows connections (synapses) among the brain cells devoted to the thing you can’t help wanting. With each repetition, that synaptic cluster is enriched: millions of new synapses fill in the gaps, and the synaptic networks underlying other goals dissipate with disuse. Then, when a reminder or “cue” pops up, that now-familiar synaptic configuration is activated like a cluster of Christmas lights. That’s when you can’t think of much else or wish for much else until you get it. That’s craving.

Because persistent craving (and the corresponding loss of control) relies on brain changes (synaptic reconfigurations), addiction experts all over the world have come to define addiction as a brain disease. Medical, psychiatric and rehab authorities like to say that addiction hijacks the brain. And their solution is more drugs, 12-step meetings, huge price tags for residential rehabs and not much else.

Rather than a disease, I see addiction as the outcome of a brain doing what it’s supposed to do: seek pleasure and relief in a world that isn’t cooperating. Other researchers also recognise that addiction grows best in a vacuum, in environments devoid of other, more wholesome rewards, such as prosperity, community, close interpersonal relationships and self-esteem. Desire can get stuck in a lot of places: in loving and caring for your kids or your pet, gourmet cooking, stamp-collecting, you name it. Or it can get stuck on drugs, including nicotine, when that empty feeling comes around again.

The brain changes that underlie addiction indicate a deep and entrenched history of learning, not a disease. So, to fight addiction, we have to address the feelings and the conditions that send people searching for short-lived rewards with long-term consequences. That’s how I portray addiction in The Biology of Desire, which is subtitled Why Addiction is Not a Disease. The book links biographies of five likeable addicts with the facts about what’s going on in their brains. And it follows them as they develop, move on to other goals that are incompatible with addiction, and leave their potions and poisons behind. Brain change is the foundation of all learning: it doesn’t equal brain disease. And luckily the brain can keep changing, with some work and some practice – as when smokers jettison that last pack and move on with their lives.


If Philip Morris wins its case against Uruguay forcing them to scrap its laws aimed at safeguarding public health, smoking bans in other countries will also be threatened. Philip Morris will have a "license to kill". A ruling is expected very soon from the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a branch of the World Bank.

One hundred million deaths in the 20th century, more than both World Wars combined, are attributable to smoking or inhaling tobacco. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills almost 6 million people every year, more than malaria (3 million), more than HIV/AIDS (2.5 million), more than tuberculosis (1,7 million). 600,000 of these are non-smokers involuntarily exposed to smoke. In total, tobacco use is responsible for the death of about 1 in 10 adults worldwide. [1]

The long-term effects of deliberate disinformation campaigns continue to make themselves felt, since 25 percent of U.S. citizens still believe that there is no solid evidence proving that smoking kills. [2] If the present trend continues, there will be one billion victims in the 21st century. Of these deaths, 70 percent to 80 percent will occur in countries with low or average incomes.

Despite these facts, the tobacco industry wants to continue to produce cigarettes. Philip Morris is even now suing countries -- Uruguay, Australia, Norway, and the United Kingdom -- for protecting its citizens from illness and premature death. These countries have adopted some of the best anti-tobacco legislation in the world.

Phillip Morris is suing them because the governments are increasing the size of health warnings on cigarette packets from 50 percent of the cover to 80 percent, and prohibiting tobacco companies from using sub-brands like Marlboro "light," "extra," "green," and "gold", in an attempt to give the impression that some cigarettes are safe to smoke.

Philip Morris claims that tax records from cigarette sales showed that warnings had "no effect at all" on consumption. If that was the case, one wonders why the industry spends so much effort to prevent them! In fact, the decrease in sales since the warnings were incorporated is dramatic. According to a study conducted by Uruguay's University of the Republic in collaboration with M.I.T., when the government started to crackdown on smoking in 2005, 40 percent of adults Uruguayans smoked. Today, only 23 percent of them do. Among the 12 to 17-year-old age bracket, smoking has been reduced from 30 to 13 percent. The decrease was especially marked amongpregnant women. [3]

A Sad History of Deceit and Lack of Compassion

In the 1930s, German researchers demonstrated that tobacco leads to lung cancer, but their work was ignored. In 1953, Ernest Wynder and his colleagues at the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York found that cigarette tar applied to the skin of mice led to deadly cancers. The tobacco industry panicked and launched a media campaign to convince the population that there was "no sound scientific basis for the charges." In 1967, the tobacco firm Brown and Williamson announced that, "there was no scientific evidence that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer or any other disease." It came to light later that scientists working for the industry actually reached the same conclusion as the other reports.

In the 1980s, after the Surgeon General concluded that passive smoking was also harmful to health, Philip Morris financed a project called Whitecoat, enrolling European scientists to "reverse the erroneous scientific and popular concept that environmental tobacco smoke is harmful to health."

Today, the tobacco industry has still not thrown in the towel. It is now targeting developing countries, and is prospering in Africa, in the Middle East, and in Asia (which is home to 60 percent of the billion smokers on the planet, 350 million of them in China alone). In Indonesia, for example, it offers young people a reward if they agree to transform their cars into ads for their brands. In China, Marlboro even sponsors school uniforms (with their logo, of course.)

According to a Philip Morris insider, an internal memo explains that, "Today's teenage[r] is tomorrow's potential regular customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while still in their teens." A well-known trait of psychopaths is that they do not feel any remorse about the harm they cause to others.

How to Protect People from Being Harmed?

Since it is well established that banning advertising lowers cigarette consumption, the first thing to do is to ban all ads. Studies have also shown that most smokers aware of the dangers of tobacco want to stop smoking. Still, in many countries, few people know the specific risks of tobacco consumption (only 37 percent in China, where people smoke freely in crowded trains or buses). Governments need to be more proactive in informing their citizens about the serious dangers posed by smoking.

Even though many think that a ban is impractical in the context of globalization, countries like Finland and Australia have already taken the path of eradication with two initiatives: removing any positive image of tobacco by making all cigarette packs the same, and banning smoking in the streets to put an end to the phenomenon of imitation.

A very pragmatic way is to hit their wallets: A group of English medical experts is encouraging governments to have the public health bill systematically paid by tobacco companies, since they are responsible for all these diseases and deaths. [4] Philip Morris' revenue in 2013 ($80.2 billion) were higher than Uruguay's GDP ($55.7 billion).

As various international instances are about to pass a judgment on Philip Morris' court cases, let's remember that we need to save lives, not grant the industry a "license to kill".

From the time I was a 13-year-old girl, I knew I was destined to become a smoker. I was one of those little girls who blissfully gazed at pictures of a waiflike Kate Moss blowing cigarette smoke into the static air from the glossy pages of a fashion magazine.

In fact, I was infatuated by all things pertaining to Kate Moss: her pale skin, her perfectly messed up hair, her effortlessly cool style — and most of all, the impressive “f*ck off” mystique she seemed to have mastered.

I will never forget the moment I caught an image of her looking fiercer than ever: She was knee-deep in mud at The Glastonbury Musical Festival in 2005, clad in the tiniest cut-off shorts imaginable, which she had paired with classic Hunter rain boots, clutching a (now extinct) disposable camera, looking like the very definition of BADASS CHIC.

I dutifully willed the universe to pretty please turn me into a girl like her. A girl so unquestionably cool. The kind of girl who didn’t have to try, just was.

What was it about that little gamine Brit drenched in dirt that made her look so fierce to my impressionable adolescent eyes? Oh, the cigarette pressed between her long, lithe fingers, naturally.

The first time I smoked a cigarette, I was about 14 years old and felt instantly transformed. It was a Marlboro light because that’s what Ms. Kate Moss The Boss smoked.

I went from being an unsure, insecure, teenage girl to a sophisticated, jaded, tough chick with a PAST within one lone puff of a cigarette.

Yes, it tasted like hell the first few times, but I didn’t start smoking for taste.

I started smoking so I had a reason to approach the cool kids at the parties. I started smoking to be viewed as intimidating and fashionable by the high school populous.

I started smoking to be taken seriously by the grown-ups in my acting class in which I was the only person under 25. I started smoking to stave off hunger.

Mainly, I started smoking because I wanted to possess the coveted swagger of Kate Moss.

I quickly realized being a smoker was akin to being a member of a secret exclusive society — after all, the “cool” people hung out in an elitist designer leather jacket clan huddled outside the confines of the club, puffing away in perfect unison on the cracked pavement of the city streets.

My love of smoking quickly escalated into an out-of-control addiction.

By the time I was 16 years old, I was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. By the time I was 22, I was living in between cigarettes.

When I turned 24, I started to see the dire physical effects of cigarette smoking penetrating my body.

My face constantly bore bruise-like half circles beneath my eyes. I was drastically underweight and hadn’t gotten a period in the better part of a year.

My hair was brittle, my skin was yellow and despite my steal collection of haute couture fragrances — I perpetually reeked of a stale ashtray.

I wish, WISH I could tell you I was driven to quit out of the pressing fears of lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, early death, diabetes and blood clots, but I shamefully regret to inform you these deadly diseases were not the catalyst of what drove me to finally put a screeching halt to my addiction.

It was vanity. What can I say? I was 24.

While deep within the crux of my heart I knew I was slowly killing myself, like most self-involved Millennials — all that stuff seemed so far away.

It’s sad but true; youth only cares about the here and now. It’s simultaneously our blessing and our curse.

The day I noticed my usually sparkling white teeth looking a dull beige, I decided to quit.

I paid $500 for the Allen Carr “Easy Way To Stop Smoking” one-day clinic, and 24 hours afterward, I never, ever picked up a cigarette again (I highly recommend either reading Allen Carr’s book or taking the clinic — it’s genius and probably saved my life.).

Yes, it is a little painful for the first two weeks, but I saw mind-blowing benefits sweeping across all aspects of my life so quickly — I couldn’t believe I had ever been a smoker to begin with.

And I’m not talking about just my “looks” and instant health boost.

Yes, my teeth began to once again gleam, the whites of my eyes became otherworldly white, the acne that had relentlessly marred my poor chin for the previous decade magically cleared.

I had a surplus of insatiable energy. I got my period again (which I know might sound like a negative, but after a year of freakouts, it’s arrival served as a very welcomed event).

My hair regained its shimmery luster, and I stopped bursting into the embarrassing fits of coughing that always ruined sentimental moments in the movie theater.

All the aforementioned positives were AMAZING — but I was shocked to see how the following unexpected areas of my life improved when I finally pulled the trigger and set myself free of my addiction:

I lost an addiction and gained a personality.

Being a “smoker” had been rooted into my identity for so long. Who was I without a cigarette hanging out my red-lipsticked mouth?

That was one of my deepest fears in quitting — thinking I would somehow lose my “edge.” But the opposite happened.

The most powerful lesson I learned once I quit was how much I had hid behind those silly little rolled-up pieces of paper full of tobacco.

When I stopped using them as a crutch, a way to fill the empty spaces in my personality — there was free space for the real me to come out.

The complex, dynamic, witty, interesting parts of myself that had been tucked away in a pack of Marlboro Lights.


I broke up with toxicity and found true love.

Smokers date other smokers. After all, the only people who are willing to put up the stench, the addiction, the compulsion, the incessant leaving of the dinner table to stand outside in the freezing cold winter weather to puff a cig are other smokers.

Try it out. Ask the non-smoking masses; almost every non-smoker will tell you smoking is an instant deal-breaker, the ultimate turn-off.

Being the devoted smoker I was, I had a very F*CK YOU attitude toward any non-smoker who was less inclined to date me because of my addiction (in fact, in those days, I had a die-hard F*CK YOU attitude about most things — maybe it was due to the fact that I was perpetually dehydrated. I don’t know.).

I fell in love four months after quitting smoking. I finally had the attention span to stay at the dinner table and engage in real conversation — in the past, I could never talk to a date for more than 20 minutes without requiring a cigarette break.

How can you get to know someone when you’re constantly breaking up the conversation to feed a habit? Also, ladies and gents, let’s be honest: It’s hard enough to find love. Why rule out over half of the dating population?


I quit smoking and started working.

I swear to the higher power up above the above statement is true. Yes, I worked while I smoked, but it was all sh*t retail jobs I hated.

Once I quit, I felt like everything in my life finally fell into place, most importantly my work. For once, I had the energy, attention span and health to channel into my creative work.

Smoking is so compulsive; it takes you directly out of the work flow when you’re forced to step out of a brilliant brainstorming session to smoke.

When you quit smoking, you can finally start working on the projects you really love — because you’re not consumed by the toxicity of addiction.

For anyone looking to quit the heat sticks, I highly recommend Allen Carr’s “Easy Way To Quit Smoking” method — it worked for me, and TRUST me, girl, if it can work for ME — it can totally work for you.


Need a Break?

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jun 12, 2015

Jumping Through Hoops!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jun 12, 2015

When I first quit smoking I jumped through hoops to protect my quit! I skipped breaks at work. I recruited my Wife to put gasoline in the car for awhile. I rearranged my social calendar. When I mean anything it takes I mean whatever it takes NO MATTER WHAT!

100 days into my Quit Journey I got laid off right in the midst of the big recession. I didn’t panic and I didn’t smoke! Smoking would have done absolutely nothing for me!

6 Months into my Quit Journey my beloved Godmother – my guiding light –passed away! I didn’t smoke! Smoking wouldn’t have helped me in any way!

At 1 Year I had the strangest out-of-the-blue thoughts about smoking! BUT I didn’t smoke! I wanted to make it to Day 366 which honestly is just as important if not more important than 365, right?

I can’t now remember when but one day well after that I was driving down the street in a very mundane and normal way when WHOA the thought came into my idiot head, “A cigarette would taste pretty darn good right about now!” WHAT!?! That was a thought and by then I knew that a thought is simply a thought! I didn’t smoke because I don’t have to obey thoughts. I get to decide! And truthfully, a cigarette always tastes like doodoo! What’s more, even if it did taste better than Swiss Dark Chocolate it wouldn’t be worth becoming a slave over!

Months later one day I found myself mesmerized by a tobacco shop I happened to be parked in front of with it’s signs of cheap cigarettes! Mesmerized! I mean totally hypnotized! BUT I didn’t go in, I didn’t buy and I didn’t smoke! Who cares if killing yourself is done cheaply? You’re still dying, right?

Another time I was in a quick store and without even using my brain, when I got to the counter I heard myself say robotically, “Marlboro Red 100s in the hard pack….”  WTHeck???? Then immediately I said, “Cancel that! I don’t DO that anymore! Thank You anyway!” I paid for some gum and left! You see, I may have said the words but I undid the action! It’s never too late to back out of the addictive transaction of buying sickerettes!!!!! NEVER!

Just 2 summers ago, I was so close to tossing my quit that I blogged HELP! Some people didn’t take me seriously! BUT enough did that I got the support I needed to stop myself from making a colossal mistake! Thank GOD! I had twisted my poor brain into a pretzel with Nico-Lies and needed help to think clearly! That’s what a HELP! Blog can do for you – untwist the knots! AND I didn’t smoke!

There isn’t a single one of us who didn’t have to nurture and protect our Quit! We are all Addicts! There isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t had to face his/her demons both personal and junkie! What makes a successful quitter isn’t being lucky enough to not have bad days – very, very bad days – What makes a successful quitter is somebody rather typical, very much like you ( and me) who will do WHATEVER IT TAKES to Live TODAY Smoke FREE! It’s that important to us! That’s all! No lucky genes, no secret wisdom, no magic powers! Just ordinary folks who commit to doing the extraordinary thing of becoming an EX for LIFE!

 You CAN do this!


Zoom Out - Zoom In!

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jun 10, 2015

One of my favorite techniques for dealing with Life is Zoom Out- Zoom In!

When I Zoom out, I see 1900 Smoke FREE Days only last week, Kenny's passing May 20, my Wedding Anniversary in April, my 5 Year Anniversary Smoke Free only 2 Months ago, .......

....those first days of shock having been diagnosed with COPD and then launchng this amazing quit journey only 6 Days later! Then coming here and finding guidance and support to go the Path of Addiction FREEDOM!


TODAY is the Most Important Day of my Quit Journey! I didn't crave sickerettes like I used to 5 Years ago. I actually think entirely differently about Nicotine, Addiction, Health and LIFE than I used to! There is no part of my being that was not twisted by Nicotine Addiction and Reclaimed by Nicotine Cessation Recovery!  Now I know what my Soul was craving! I know what Thoughts and Feelings are and just as importantly what they are not! They are important to acknowledge but they ae not blind commands to follow!

When I feel that emptiness that I use to interpret as "need a cigarette" I now read myself more truthfully. I see Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, Tiredness, or whatever else is actually the need - not Addiction! That makes it possible for me to actually make a real, lasting change in my Life rather than cover it up behind a smoke cloud!

I am who I am. I love me just EXactly the way I am - a (very) flawed human being who has to believe and Trust in God Almighty to get through today! And that's O.K. That's the nature of humanity! I look around and see a World full of LOVE and opportunity, brimming with Life and I'm a part fo that! 

Today is a Wonderful Day to Live Addiction FREE! 

God Bless every one of us!

Mom and Dad somehow managed to stay married for 49 years, largely because they had an understanding:

Dad handled all the big decisions.

Mom handled all the little ones.

Amazingly, in those 49 years, not one big decision ever came up.

(Writer's full disclosure: The framework for this lead basically was pilfered from a story John Gagliardi has been telling for decades about his own marriage, which is at 59 years and counting.)

Along the way, one of the biggest of those little decisions Mom made was this — Dad had tight restrictions on where he was allowed to smoke inside the house.

There were no negotiations on this. Mom was a lifelong nonsmoker who detested the "stinky habit" Dad had picked up while in the Navy during the Korean War.

His smoking was restricted to two rooms. One was his "office," which basically was a 5-by-8-foot closet that had been walled off in a back corner of the laundry room.

Contents included a desk and chair, shelves lined with income tax books (dad was an accountant) and cartoons making fun of the Air Force (his employer), cartons of Salem cigarettes and an ash tray — which was exactly what everything in the room smelled like.

Smoking also was allowed in the adjoining TV room. But there was a caveat: Dad was allowed to smoke only if he used the battery-operated ashtray that sucked up the cigarette smoke.

Fearing the consequences, he used it faithfully. He didn't like it much, and grumbled about it frequently. But the decision had been made, and there was only one other option — quitting.

In the mid-1990s, Dad finally did. It took a while, and it wasn't easy, but he retired his Salems and battery-operated ash tray.

Countless smokers know exactly how difficult this is.

Millions have succeeded, but usually only after an array of failures.

It's the hardest thing a lot of people have ever done. We chronicled one of them — Melissa Nelson of Waite Park — in a story last week.

Today, we're giving other smokers who've quit — and some who haven't — the chance to tell their stories.

Some might sound awfully familiar:

"I don't know that there is a blanket cure to quit. My advice is not to start." — Gillian Beumer

"I quit in 2000. I don't recommend my method of quitting, however, because it started with bronchitis.

"For several months after quitting you crave cigarettes. The intensity of that craving doesn't wane, but the frequency and duration of the craving becomes smaller. Eventually, there is no craving. I haven't wanted a cigarette in a very, very long time." — Muggsy Lauer

"One day I was watching the news and saw a tobacco industry spokesperson deny that cigarettes caused lung cancer. He implied that it was people's genetics that caused cancer.

"I was so angry at such a blatant lie that I quit that day. I didn't smoke again until 8 years later." — Bill Jones

"James Sabyan and his brother got hypnotized to quit. (There was a bet involved with it). Not sure if it was the hypnosis or the loss of money on a bet that kept them both non-smoking for that year." — Lisa Sabyan (James's spouse)

"I quit for 21/2 years. All I can say is never ever let the monkey out the cage once he's there." — Randy Negaard

"Countless times I quit, but self-control wore me down each time. Then I fell for a woman and somehow she convinced me to quit. Suddenly, quitting became near effortless." — Ted Sherarts

"I quit in 2001. I was sick of it and the stink and quit cold turkey. Never looked back. So I guess it was easy for me.

"The fact my mother had just had a stroke, then developed COPD — that maybe was a good reason, too. She smoked for over 50 years." — Debbie Still Copa

"Quit often. (An) acupuncturist once said to me, 'Some people will never quit smoking.'

"Well, my last cigarette was many years ago, so I guess he was wrong about me." —Amy Becker LaFrance

"When I was in fifth grade, me and a friend found a pack of Salem Menthols under a vending machine. We went behind some trees down by the river and shared one of them.

"The taste was horrible! I couldn't get it out of my mouth for hours. That was my first and last cigarette. Never smoked again." — Mark Hasbrouck

"Having a plan to deal with the cravings worked for me, but is harder when those cravings come after years of being clean. They sneak up when you are least prepared. And then it's a potential relapse, depending on what other stressors are happening in your life.

"There's no way I could ever have quit without nicotine replacement. Patches and lozenges work for me." — Lisa Farrell Schwarz

"I quit five years ago after at least a half-dozen tries. Eventually I came to realize that all I was doing was avoiding withdrawal symptoms by continuing, so why not just end the torture and quit for good?

"A few months later it was easy. Now I never crave them." — Jake Hagedorn

"I successfully quit about seven times over the last 25 years — each time for less than six months. Even a heart attack could only get me to quit for nine months.

"I finally disobeyed my psychiatrist's orders and got a prescription for Chantix. Smoke-free three years this April." — Ric Studer

"I smoked from about 18 to 25. Then I came down with pneumonia and it took about three months before my lungs didn't hurt any more.

"After that I never had a desire to smoke again. It may not be a fun solution, but it worked for me." — Jeff Lee

"I quit at 27 — it substituted as training for RAGBRAI (a bicycle tour across Iowa). Have not smoked since." — Heather Burns

"I never quit smoking cigarettes. I just stopped buying and bumming them." — Jim McNelly

"I did for 10 years. Yuck — I hate to admit it.

"I missed it. Now I don't. I couldn't have the life I have with that habit." — Jill Welch

"I did very well after a bad case of the flu. I went for three weeks. And then Dan Barth threw a pack of cigarettes at me and said, 'If you don't smoke these, I'm going to have to kill you.' Apparently, I get a little cranky."

"(My father) quit on his 30th birthday, and he told me when he was 70 that there wasn't a day in his life that he didn't want one. I have never been the person that will deny himself something that he wants. I'm concerned." — Raine Hokan

"I've tried to quit a handful of times, usually with about 1-2 months of success. Eventually, I start again.

"The common denominator has been ... I'm quitting to appease someone else. I've never done it for me, because I've never really wanted to stop.

"That's changed recently. I want to do it for myself now. Gonna give it another go after my 30th birthday this June." — Abby Faulkner

The sooner the better.

Dad quit only because he was diagnosed with emphysema. Exacerbated by his diabetes, smoking destroyed his health.

He died in 2001, at age 72. If it wasn't for cigarettes, he might have been around a lot longer.

Let's hope the people you just heard from — those who managed to quit, and those who want to — will be as well.

[And we all hope that each one of US will be around a good long while, too!]


Need a Boost?

Posted by Thomas3.20.2010 Jun 6, 2015



Check out the Positive Affirmations Group! You'll find lots of inspiration!


This July 6 our entire campus of retirement facilities will become Smoke FREE! That includes parking lots, parks, alleys, even your own car! All Residents and Employees will have to abide by these rules 

For those who are interested, Smoking Cessation Classes with Free NRTs will be provided. For the rest of these folks, they have to cross off campus to indulge in their Addiction!

So why do I take this so jubilently? I haven't forgotten my days as an actve Addict! I remember clearly that compulsion to have a sickerette! I know that with technique you can suck down 3 sickerettes on a 10 minute break!

However, I have COPD and second and even third hand smoke make me very sick instantaneously. Literally my airway closes up and I cough uncontrollably and struggle to breathe! I've had to ask coworkers to please step away from the door so I can get to my car when I get off work (only partially effective since I still have to walk through that smoke cloud!) I've had to ask coworkers to please keep their distance from me after coming in from their smoke breaks. I've had to avoid the patios and outside areas because they are full of smoke from smoke break. And I'm a worker!

The residents - our clients and reason for existence - are mostly in their 80s and 90s. Some of them are unable to speak up for themselves due to cognitive decline. THEY often have COPD, too! Mine is moderate and some of them have severe COPD. They undoubtedly have the same second and third hand smoking issues as I do! Then a worker comes in from their smoke break and without even washing their hands goes in and provides care on that Resident! Gee, I wonder why So-and-so can't breathe when Such-and-such is caring for them! 

THAT is why I'm elated! Smoking doesn't just effect the Smoker in dozens of negative ways! It effects the people who are around them! 

Think of your Grandbabies! The guy parked next to you at the grocery store! The lady in line at ATT or that sports event! Think of the third hand smoke you transfer to paper money! 

AND think of yourself!

Life is too short! Don't smoke it up!

BERLIN -- Not just smokers, but also passive smokers, need more anesthesia during surgery, according to a study presented at the Euroanaesthesia Congress.

Compared with patients with no tobacco smoke exposure, smokers needed 38% more propofol to induce anesthesia, and passive smokers needed 18% more, reported lead investigator Erdogan Ozturk, MD, of Bezmialem Vakif University in Istanbul, and colleagues.

"A limited number of studies exist indicating that smoking increases anesthetic requirements; however, anesthetic agent requirements for individuals exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (passive smokers) have not been studied at all," the investigators wrote.

Ninety women undergoing total abdominal hysterectomy were enrolled in the study. They were divided into three groups of 30 each based on smoking status: smokers, passive smokers, and nonsmokers. (Nonsmokers had no history of smoking or environmental tobacco smoke exposure).

Smoking status was confirmed by measuring serum cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine and marker of tobacco smoke exposure.

Standard total intravenous anesthesia was performed on all patients. Bispectral index values were maintained at 40-60. After each operation, the investigators assessed the total amounts of propofol and the painkiller remifentanil used.

The average amount of propofol used to induce anesthesia was 102.76 mg for smokers, 84.53 mg for passive smokers, and 63.17 mg for nonsmokers. Smokers needed 38% more propofol than nonsmokers and 17% more than passive smokers to induce anesthesia. Passive smokers needed 18% more propofol than nonsmokers. (P<0.05 for all.)

Total propofol usage for the entire procedure was 179.38 mg for smokers, 150.50 mg for passive smokers, and 119.37 mg for nonsmokers. Smokers used 33% more anesthesia than nonsmokers and 16% more than passive smokers. Passive smokers used 20% more anesthesia than nonsmokers. (P<0.05 for all.)

Total amounts of remifentanil used were 1,315 mcg for smokers, 1,241 mcg for passive smokers, and 1,010 mcg for nonsmokers. Smokers used 23% more of this painkiller than nonsmokers and 6% more than passive smokers. Passive smokers used 18% more than nonsmokers. (P<0.05 for smokers versus nonsmokers.)

"We concluded that the amount of the anesthetic and analgesic required to ensure equal anesthetic depth in similar surgeries was higher in active smokers and passive smokers compared to nonsmokers," the researchers concluded.

One potential explanation for the results is that nicotine affects the metabolism of anesthetic drugs in the liver. "Our starting point was the idea that cigarettes, which contain more than 4,000 chemicals, may affect drug metabolism," Ozturk told MedPage Today via email.

"I suggest that healthcare professionals should consider the effect of smoking in their research and plan customized treatment options for each individual. This will optimize the medication process and contribute to the reduction of health expenditures," Ozturk said.


Because so few studies have explored the question, anesthesiologists generally aren't aware that smokers may need more anesthesia during surgery, Richard Dutton, MD, an anesthesiologist at the University of Chicago and Chief Quality Officer for the American Society of Anesthesiologists, said in an interview with MedPage Today. Dutton was not involved in the study.

"This is a surprise," Dutton said. "It's not something I would have predicted, but I am inclined to believe the results. I would love to see it replicated in a larger study population."

"It's biologically plausible. Cigarette smoke is a brain stimulant, and a patient on stimulants needs more anesthesia to get to sleep," Dutton said.

There is normally 10% to 20% individual variation in the amount of anesthesia patients require, so the 38% difference between smokers and nonsmokers for inducing anesthesia is substantial, Dutton said.

In addition, the fact that smoking status was objectively ascertained by measuring cotinine, rather than relying on self-reports, is an important strength of the study Dutton said.

"If this is borne out by other studies, it could affect clinical practice," Dutton said. "We should probably be aware that smokers might require more anesthesia."

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