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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

50 Years of Smoking Cessation

On January 11, 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General released a landmark Report on Smoking and Health.  It was the first time smoking was liked to lung cancer.  By and large, the report was ignored by most smokers and non smokers alike, mainly because smoking was cool, relaxing, and harmless -- or so people thought.

What people didn't realize is they had been hoodwinked.  They were hit by a barrage of advertisements claiming all the good that a cigarette could do, and even the government got involved in the fray by getting millions of soldiers hooked in an effort to stimulate the American economy.

Studies were out, by the way, as far back as the 1920s showing the harmful effects of smoking, but most Americans, with no Internet at their fingertips, didn't have access to such information.  So the powers that be took advantage of this.  Watch just about any adult movie or TV show made in the 1940s and 1950s and you'll see people smoking just about anywhere, even in front of the sick, and even in front of kids.

Heck, even kids were encouraged to smoke.  I remember when I began middle school the teacher's aid showing us where smoker's hill was.  We were advised to stay away from it, because it was where high school kids could smoke.  A few years later, when I was in High School, smoker's hill was no longer smoker's hill. That's how it was for smoking during my life, our life.

A few years ago  friend who was in his late 70s came to my house to deliver something, and to visit.  He said he was on his way to a doctor's visit, and said he was tired of seeing doctors because "they always find something else wrong."

He said this as he was puffing on a cigarette.

He added, "I think it's a fallacy that second hand smoke is bad for you." He emptied his lungs, smoke blowing in my direction.  Thankfully I had already prepared myself for the exhalation.

I think he had accepted the fact that his lung cancer was the result of his smoking, but he was still in denial about second hand smoke.  I wanted to say to him: why would second hand smoke be any less harmful than first hand smoke?  It has the same chemicals, doesn't it?

I said nothing.  I understood that such a statement noted a leftover belief from the years of brainwashing.

Think of how far we have come in the past 50 years.  Smoking has been linked to asthma, tuberculosis, Alzheimers, heart disease, and all sorts of cancers.  There is simply too much evidence to deny it now.

A 32nd Surgeon General's report on smoking and health, The Health Consequences-- 50 Years of Progress, notes that smoking now kills 480,000 people every single year, and has moved death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease up to the number three cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.

The report notes the cost of smoking as being phenominal, costing the United States an estimated $289 to $333 billion each year, including annual direct medical costs of $132 to $175 billion.  That doesn't include the loss of productivity due to increased morbidity, estimated at $151 billion annually. Exposure to second hand smoke costing 5.6 billion in lost productivity.

But we don't care about costs here at the RT Cave, we care about fresh air.  It sure is nice to go out to eat, ask to be placed in the no smoking section, and not have to sit in the booth next to the smoking section.

In 50 years COPD may no longer be in the top ten causes of death, and the reason will be due to better education.

  1. Fratantoro, Chief Editor, "Tobacco Deadlier Than Ever," February, 2014, RT: For Decision Makers in Respiratory Care, editorial, article can also be found at,, accessed on 4/17/14

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