It is no secret that we spent decades listening to lies from the tobacco industry. Today, the biggest hazard may come from smokers who are lying to themselves.
It’s not just smokers who are at fault here. Their friends and family — the people who love them — are complicit in allowing them to lie to themselves about the dangers of tobacco and their hesitance to quit.
What are those lies?
• “I only smoke a little. It’s not enough to hurt me.”
The reality is, there is no safe level of smoking. Each cigarette damages your lungs, blood vessels and cells throughout your body.
• “Sure, my kid smokes now, but he’ll quit when he gets older.”
Truth is, cigarettes are designed for addiction. Three out of four teen smokers continue as adults.
• “I’ve been smoking for years. It’s too late to quit.”
Every smoke-free day matters. As soon as two weeks after you’ve stopped smoking, your circulation and lung function improve. Give it a year and the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s. Make it five years and the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker.
One of the diseases most closely associated with smoking is COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It is a lung disease that results in chronic shortness of breath. Ultimately, it can lead to a chronic cough and the need to wear an oxygen mask 24/7. COPD is a major cause of disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States.
COPD has long been considered a disease of white men, as they have historically smoked at higher rates than other groups. That profile is changing, and the rate of COPD among women has climbed steadily in recent years.
Activate Allen County will host a Free Lung Screening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 15. If you are experiencing a chronic cough, or shortness of breath, come to The Sleep Center at 528 W. Market St. in Lima. We will be doing simple breathing tests to screen for COPD, and a small finger stick to screen for Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency.
And if you are a smoker who wants help quitting, or know a smoker who should, go to www.activate allencounty.com to find tips for quitting as well as information about upcoming programs in the area that can help.
Health tips courtesy of Activate Allen County will appear in this space every Monday.