Thursday, November 02, 2006

3032 What it costs to smoke

How do I count the ways? My heart and hopes are with my 38 year old son who has been smoking half his life. When the morning cough and the expense ($8/day--almost $3,000/year) became alarming, he made another resolve to quit. He's made some really good progress this week, and is down to 5 from 45 cigarettes a day.

My husband grew up in a home with smoking parents. His mother who was very fair and blond lost about 5 inches of height in her later years and had a lung tumor (non-operable). Smoking is much harder on women than men. She quit smoking about 5 years before her death (I think she forgot she smoked), and actually recovered some brain function. When I met my husband nearly 50 years ago, he coughed every morning but he wasn't a smoker. We think he probably coughed at least an hour or two each morning when he worked in an office where smoking was allowed. I can remember in 1967 when I was in graduate school at the University of Illinois and he drove me to class, he would cough all the way from our house to the drop off on campus--probably a 20 minute drive. When he went to work for a downtown firm in Columbus in the mid 70s in an older, poorly ventilated office, he told them he would quit if they couldn't get him away from the smokers, so they stopped letting the employees smoke in the office. Over time, smoking has been eliminated in most public places, even stadiums, but I remember when the library employees smoked behind the circulation desk--patrons didn't, but staff areas were OK. And in retail stores--the clerks were all smoking at the registers. You couldn't get away from it. It was bizarre.

I heard Rush Limbaugh complaining today about the liberal conspiracy behind the smoking initiatives in various states. Rush may be right that the backers are liberals, but I hope we can stop issue 4, which will again allow smoking in bars and restaurants, and pass issue 5 which will stop it. Apparently, Rush hasn't noticed how many people earn their living working as waitresses, bar tenders, bussers and kitchen help in restaurants. A public non-smoking law was passed in Scotland this year, and within a month, when they tested the employees of restaurants, there was a huge improvement in their lung function (reported in JAMA).

Vote NO on #4, the amendment to the Ohio Constitution, called euphemistically, "Smoke Less Ohio," which will bring smoke back to our restaurants, hotels, nursing homes, etc.

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