Quitting Never Felt So Good

November 17 is the 2022 Great American Smokeout

quitting never felt so goodThere’s a website called Quit Assist to help folks stop smoking cigarettes. The motto is Quitting Never Felt So Good. “There are hundreds of programs, telephone quitlines, websites, apps, and other tools available to help you quit and stay tobacco-free. Many resources are free or low-cost. Here is a partial list to help you get started.”

Thursday, November 17, is the 2022 Great American Smokeout. I hope you can quit smoking. If not for you, then do it for me. Or someone like me.

My father used to smoke cigarettes, Winstons. I remember it well because he would send me to the corner store to buy them for him, starting when I was five or six. This was back in the day when they’d let minors purchase tobacco. This really irritated me. The store at Front and Gaines was only three very small house lots away. Why didn’t he get his own darn cigarettes?

Of course, I never said that. Still, I ALWAYS hated the smell and the taste of the smoke in the air. When I was a little older, and he had graduated to having me buy cartons, I would occasionally steal a pack from time to time, hoping the added expense would get him to at least cutback. Nah. He’d just say, “Give me back my cigarettes.”

These are the good old days

Of course, cigarettes were much more prevalent when I was growing up, with the coffin nails allowed in planes; smoke didn’t know to stop at the non-smoking section, I’ve learned.

It takes me a little by surprise, then, to confront tobacco these days. Those folks who stand just outside the door to a building when they’re supposed to be 20 feet away. Some dude moves away from the hospital onto a path that everyone going that way must pass. Or those who can’t seem to be able to read the quite visible “no smoking” signs in the bus kiosks because they need to light up there, especially when it’s windy and/or rainy. Am I supposed to stand out in bad weather?

Smoking makes me particularly grumpy because I have an annoyingly acute sense of smell. I can sometimes pick up the scent ten meters away. It’s a bit of a curse when our next-door neighbor is puffing away on their property line.

So, at the bare minimum, be aware of your environment when you light up. Better still, save your money. Cigarettes are expensive these days, especially in New York, where they’re about $12 a pack. I swear they were 35 cents when I grudgingly bought them for dad.

Menthol-flavored cigarettes kill

The Great American Smokeout

MentholAs a non-smoker, I never realized that menthol-flavored cigarettes were so specifically dangerous. That is until I heard about the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. The AATCLC  has been noting this problem for years.

Specifically, “in 2009, Congress passed — and President Obama signed into law — the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The act implemented a total flavor ban in cigarettes, but excluded menthol subject to further research on the public health impacts of menthol in cigarettes.” More research.

“In 2011, the FDA’s Advisory Committee concluded that the ‘Removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States.’ Though Canada, the European Union, Ethiopia, and other countries have taken menthol off the market, the United States has yet to do so, despite overwhelming evidence collected by the FDA that a menthol ban would benefit public health.”

The CDC notes, “Menthol in cigarettes creates a cooling sensation in the throat and airways when the user inhales, making cigarette smoke feel less harsh on the user.” So it’s not surprising that “studies have shown that menthol in cigarettes likely leads people—especially young people—to experiment with smoking.”

Target marketing

Moreover, “there also is heavy marketing by tobacco companies in African American neighborhoods, magazines that are popular with African Americans, and at music and lifestyle events aimed at African Americans.” Nearly 9 in 10 black Americans smoke menthol cigarettes, compared with less than a quarter of white Americans.

This is interesting. “Women who smoke are more likely to use menthol cigarettes than men who smoke. A 2009-2010 study showed LGBT people who smoke are more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes than heterosexual people who smoke, and that the difference was even greater in terms of LGBT women versus heterosexual women.”

Along with Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), AATCLC brought a Formal Complaint against the FDA back in June 2020. “The lawsuit asks the court to compel the FDA to carry out its statutory duties under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act and take steps to add menthol to the original list of prohibited characterizing flavors. Such action would result in the removal of menthol-flavored tobacco products from the marketplace.”

However, there are folks who, for quite legitimate reasons, fear a menthol ban will make a bad situation worse.” People will start selling menthol cigarettes illegally [which will] make the community more vulnerable to police harassment.” It could “lead to greater tensions with police in black communities.”

Per this recent article, the issue remains unresolved.

Great American Smokeout 2018: e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes and youth don’t mix

About this time last year, tobacco companies in the United States were required to spend “money on TV ads again — not to sell cigarettes, but to warn against them…

“The campaign is the culmination of an 18-year legal battle in which the federal government sought to recover billions of dollars in health care related to tobacco-caused illnesses. After lengthy litigation, the court-mandated remedy is anti-smoking ads that will begin running in newspapers… and on TV… for a year.”

A complicating item in the tobacco marketplace is the growth of e-cigarettes. They are less deadly than regular cigarettes, and therefore perhaps a legitimate alternative to smoking for extant smokers. Conversely, e-cigarettes and youth don’t mix.

The Centers for Disease Control declares:

*The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults.
*Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.
*E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.
*Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
Arguably, the e-cigarette manufacturers have been targeting the young adult with their “fun” flavors

Breaking news: Juul will stop selling most e-cigarette flavors in stores and end social media promotion, bowing to F.D.A. pressure to curb teenage vaping.

I had a friend, Donna, who was often trying to quit smoking cigarettes, mostly because she knew how much I hated them. She developed brain cancer about a decade and a half ago. Figuring it didn’t matter, she resumed smoking yet again. I’m convinced those latter cigarettes even more agonizing right before she died.

Today is the Great American Smokeout, “an annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS)… This social engineering event focuses on encouraging Americans to quit tobacco smoking. People are challenged to stop smoking for at least 24 hours assuming that their decision not to smoke will last longer, hopefully forever. Today, more than 43 million people in the United States smoke cigarettes, that is about 1 in 5 adults.”

Here are 15+ Of The Most Powerful Anti-Smoking Ads Ever Created, CDC’s anti-smoking ad campaign, and Powerful Anti Smoking Ads That Will Make You Quit. (Oh that it were so easy!)

I’ve seen this one a lot: CDC: Tips From Former Smokers – Terrie’s Tip Ad

E-cigarettes: a solution to smoking?

“In addition to the unknown health effects, early evidence suggests that e-cigarette use may serve as an introductory product for preteens and teens who then go on to use other tobacco products.”

Because smoking still kills hundreds of thousands of people a year, back in July 2017, the Food and Drug Administration was considering a new rule that would require tobacco companies to lower nicotine levels in cigarettes.

Essentially the plan is to get people to quit by trying to make cigarettes less addictive. Tobacco stocks tumbled over the news. “But the FDA says the change will help the market innovate, and push people to turn to alternatives like e-cigarettes.”

There is evidence in England that as the popularity of e-cigarettes rises, more smokers are able to quit.

In the US, though, prelimary research shows that the fall in sales of traditional cigarettes, which had been dropping for decades, “slowed in 2015, while sales of e-cigarettes — which also pose health hazards — are skyrocketing.”

The National Institutes of Health notes: “E-cigarettes are popular among teens and are now the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States. Their easy availability, alluring advertisements, various e-liquid flavors, and the belief that they’re safer than cigarettes have helped make them appealing to this age group. Further, a study of high school students found that one in four teens reported using e-cigarettes for dripping, a practice in which people produce and inhale vapors by placing e-liquid drops directly onto heated atomizer coils…

“In addition to the unknown health effects, early evidence suggests that e-cigarette use may serve as an introductory product for preteens and teens who then go on to use other tobacco products, including cigarettes… A study showed that students who had used e-cigarettes by the time they started 9th grade were more likely than others to start smoking cigarettes and other smokable tobacco products within the next year. However, more research is needed…”

E-cigarettes can also be dangerous to very small children who may access the product.

The e-cigarette craze may not be the panacea some had hoped for. For the Great American Smokeout, smokers might consider resources suggested by the American Cancer Society.

The costly cigarette habit

They were smokers – heavy smokers, and they did massive damage with their toxic habit over a nine-year period.

It continues to be true that my physical tolerance for tobacco has diminished over time. I was in a restaurant parking lot last month where a guy, now 30 feet from me, had been walking, and I had to change my route because of the lingering smell of his cigarette smoke.

This summer, and into the fall, one of my brothers-in-law has been coming up to our area almost every weekend, cleaning the apartment he and his wife had rented to his sister-in-law and her husband. These are long trips he’s been making, of about 280 miles (450 km) and five hours each way. The cleaning involved scrubbing the walls, taking up the carpeting, replacing the ventilation system, and all sorts of labor-intensive tasks. His father has helped a bit; his wife tried, but the place was making her ill. I’ve only been there once, early in the process, and after three minutes in that location, I developed a raging headache that did not dissipate until I spent over an hour outside.

Yes, the tenants were smokers – heavy smokers – and they did massive damage with their toxic habit over a nine-year period. I know the couple peripherally. Right after our daughter was born, they came to visit us in the hospital, as delegates of sorts for my brother-in-law’s family. My wife and my new daughter were in bed, I was sitting next to them, and we could smell them before they actually entered the room for a fortunately short visit.

Oh, look at the percentage of cigarette butts in this list of waste products.

Tomorrow is the Great American SmokeOut. If you don’t quit smoking for yourself, do it for me, because you probably reek.

(Picture from The Bad Chemicals – how appropriate! Used By permission.)

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