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

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.”

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

4 thoughts on “Great American Smokeout 2020”

  1. Hi Roger. This is Mark Berman, we met for lunch a few years ago (my sense of time sucks too) with Jonny Rosen. You may have seen some of my Facebook posts. I don’t know if you still smoke, but as a cancer patient I have one thing to say: DON’T!! I’ve been struggling with prostate cancer for over 10 years now, and prostate cancer is a relatively slow growing and often benign cancer (mine is aggressive and not benign) as opposed to lung cancer which is terrible. Even though we’ve only met the once, I still consider you family and I don’t want to lose any more family to this terrible disease. If you need to smoke something, smoke pot! It seems to be less of a killer.

  2. Hi, Mark – fortunately, I never was a smoker. (I may have smoked maybe 25 cigarettes in 1977).

  3. Roger, my mom had shot lungs when she died at age 69. Shot liver as well. She was able to quit alcohol at 59. Never stopped smoking. Tried many times but couldn’t. “If I stop smoking, I know I’ll start drinking again.”

    She had to pick her poison. And she was in nicotine withdrawal during her final hospitalization. I still grieve for her on that account.

    I have COPD from years of secondhand smoke, in nightclubs. I never smoked: the customers did it for me.

  4. Roger- Thanks for sharing. It is alarming that younger people appear to be ignoring the science and are increasingly smoking again. And thanks for sharing Arnold’s reflections. He was my mother’s youngest brother.

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