I Need To Quit

Everybody I know or knew, who has quit smoking, has died of lung cancer.  I’m not making that up.  It’s a true fact for me.  It’s what keeps me afraid to quit smoking. 

Let’s take my father as an example.  He quit smoking in his late 40s.  Cold turkey.  Just said one day that he was going to quit and he did.  Thirty years later, in his early 70s, he‘s diagnosed with lung cancer and told that it was from his smoking which he quit, like I said, cold turkey 30 years ago.  After chemo and radiation treatments, my father died from fluid buildup in his lungs as a result of his treatment for cancer.  He got radiation pneumonia.  Basically he drowned in his own lung fluid. 

Now, I’m standing on a balcony having a cigarette.  I’m helping someone move and taking a break.  A person I have never met, who is also helping this girl move to a new apartment, comes out on the balcony and lights up a cigarette.  This was a few years ago.  The guy says to me, “I need to quit.”  I say to him, “Why?” 

“Everybody I know that has quit smoking has died of cancer, makes me afraid to quit,” I says. 

“Funny you should say that,” my uncle quit smoking a long time ago and he died of lung cancer recently, and a friend of my father’s was just diagnosed with lung cancer.  He kicked the habit over 10 years ago.” 

“See what I mean,” I says. 

Well, I’m sure there’s no clinical evidence to prove my theory, but what I’m going to theorize, is that is doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if you quit or not.  If you are going to get lung cancer, and if you can explain Brian Piccollo to me I will reverse this entire opinion, you’re going to get lung cancer.  Smoking is NOT going to be the cause.  It may be a contributing factor, but that’s a big difference.

“If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one.”  –The National Cancer Institute, 1954.  Stupid thing to say, or was it based on studies of the National Cancer Institute? 

I remember being told that your lung tissue recovers if you stop smoking, and it only takes 10 years for your lungs to look like you’ve never smoked.  It’s all hokey.  Your lungs will never recover from the tar deposits that are now a permanent fixture there if you’re a smoker.  And, as evidenced by my father and others, your risk of lung cancer doesn’t change much either.  Blood pressure will definitely improve though.  Your sense of taste and smell will improve quickly.  Heart attack risk will be lower.  But not getting lung cancer only drops by about 30%, pancreatic cancer by about the same. 

In other words, quit or not, you may or may not get cancer.  I’ve known smokers from the previous generation that are in their 80s and 90s, in decent health, highly functioning and smoking a pack a day.  I also know people in their 50s and 60s who are walking around with an oxygen tank or not able to walk a few feet without losing their breath or coughing incessantly.  Explain it to me. 

I remember the Marlboro Man was a big proponent of smoking until he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Then he became the most outspoken of reformed smokers.  My x-father-in-law died of lung cancer when he was 54.  He smoked two packs, sometimes three of Marlboro Reds a day.  While he was in Albuquerque getting radiation treatments for his cancer, he caught me outside smoking and asked for a cigarette. 

“I don’t think I should give you one,” I said. 

“Why not?  It’s not going to make any difference now is it?  I’ve already got cancer.  Not smoking isn’t going to make it go away, and smoking isn’t going to make it worse.  Give me a goddamn cigarette.” 

It was hard to argue with the logic, so I gave him a smoke and lit it for him.  His wife caught him with it, and I was on everybody’s shit list for a long time.  He died of lung cancer a year after that encounter. 

So here’s the thing about smoking.  There is no causal link between smoking and lung cancer no matter what you’ve been told.  Go to the National Institute of Health website and see for yourself.  Better link to heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease (although drinking is the number one causal culprit there) mouth, nose and throat cancer.  But then you dippers, users of chewing tobacco, have more of a worry there than smokers.  There is absolutely no causal link between second-hand smoke and lung cancer.  Other respiratory disease, allergies, maybe.  Again check out the studies, note particularly the number of individuals in the studies. 

Now this is frightening, but a cross section of lung looks frightening to me anyway. This one has cancer (the lighter tissue) and from the dark portions at the bottom, was a smoker.

If smoking causes lung cancer…causes….then everyone who smokes should get lung cancer.  The odds numbers they put out…30% chance, relates to 30% more of a chance than a non-smoker.  A never-smoking professional athlete can still get lung cancer.  Proof: Brian Piccollo.    I think the statistics will change noticeably as more baby-boomers enter the later life stages with their renewed health interests, like quitting smoking because they can’t afford to pay the taxes on a pack of cigarettes with their social security checks. 

On my evidence alone, I could put together a study and claim that quitting smoking, is a major cause of death and lung cancer in reformed smokers.  I’ve studied as many subjects as they have.  I’m probably wrong, and I’ll probably pay for it myself, but based on my evidence quittin’ scares me. 

I say lay off the cigarettes, they’re not the cause.  Something out there is, and we need to figure it out.  Taxing the beegeezuz out of cigarettes is not making people quit, it’s hurting them financially.   




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4 responses to “I Need To Quit

  1. Shannon

    Nobody cares if smokers get cancer or not. All they care about is the smell. Case in point: electronic cigarettes, are the better for you, worse for you or the same? I don’t know, because they don’t smell so nobody is raising a stink (pun intended). I have more respect for someone being honest and saying they hate the smell rather than citing all the health issues. My dad had a lung removed and stopped smoking, I don’t know if smoking caused the cancer or if something else did. He’s never told me what he thinks. He never lectures people on their smoking and still goes to places where people smoke. I’ve heard all about skin cancer which seems to be more common than lung cancer, but I still like a nice tan so who am I to criticize?

    Personally, I’m more afraid of the wrinkles, you can’t see my lungs, but you can see my face. I say this from my own observations not any study. I have members on both sides of the family that have smoked and not smoked. The smokers are wrinkly and the non-smokers aren’t. I’m not healthy, just vain.

    • I think you’re right about the wrinkles, but I think they’re more due to the exposure to the sun. We smokers spend a lot of time outside. Smoking definitely causes wrinkles though, especially around the mouth. I’m not a doctor though, or a medical researcher or anything like it. Just explain to me how Brian Piccollo got lung cancer and died, and I’ll believe that something causes cancer like environment, exposure to something, and genetics. Because it’s causal to all these things. Me, I should just shut up and quit.

  2. Great, now you tell me. (sigh) I can’t afford it any more anyway. I was behind a woman who bought a carton of cigarettes a couple years ago and it was over fifty bucks. I was glad I stopped.

    • Yeah, it’s over fifty bucks. Ninety percent of it is tax too. I mean 90%. I’m going to quit, again, someday. Quitting is easy. I’ve done it a hundred times already. Just for the record, I agree with Shannon above, nobody cares if they cause cancer or not. That’s never been the issue.

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