Great American Smokeout 2020

“They all are”

Great American SmokeoutIn a normal year, I would have been long aware of the Great American Smokeout 2020. I might have written about it a month or two ago. Of course, I needn’t tell you the obvious.

“The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout® is an annual event that encourages and offers support to smokers to make a plan to quit smoking or to quit smoking on the day of the event – the third Thursday in November each year. By quitting – even for one day – smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk.”

Yeah, but you’ve given up so much already this year! Someone wants you to quit tobacco too? Well, yeah.

“Being a current or former cigarette smoker increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

“If you currently smoke, quit. Now, if you used to smoke, don’t start again. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start. Counseling from a healthcare provider and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications can double the chances of quitting smoking. For help quitting smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit smokefree.gov.

My sort of relative Arnold

Arnold Berman, the brother of my late great-aunt Charlotte I loved communicating with. He died in 2018, I believe, though my sense of time is shot to heck. He noted a few years ago, “You should know that the US Surgeon General was shamefully late with that first report.

Then this personal reflection. “I started smoking in 1939 at the age of 15 – I was pretty sophisticated. In 1952 I read the reports from Sweden clearly linking cigarette smoking with lung cancer. I discovered that this was old news with such reports dating back at least 10 years. Weighing this against the benefits of smoking I quit cold turkey – I was pretty sophisticated. In 1953 my wife of three years and I split. Wallowing in self-pity I started smoking again.

“In 2001 I discovered that I had an advanced abdominal aortic aneurysm and agreed to have open surgery for repair. My California daughter, a nurse-midwife, called the surgeon’s office to inform them that I was a smoker. She reported to me that the response was ‘they all are; that’s why they’re here.’ I gave up smoking for good.”