The evidence that tobacco is the cause of a long list of nasty diseases is irrefutable. We're talking not only heart disease, stroke, and chronic lung disease but also
bladder, lung, and pancreatic cancer. Around 400,000 Americans die each year--one every 80 seconds--from tobacco-related illnesses.
If we know that smoking is harmful, why can't we stop doing it? Because nicotine is powerfully addictive, and the cigarette is one of the most efficient drug-delivery
devices ever devised. When people try to quit, they often experience classic nicotine withdrawal symptoms: anxiety, irritability, headache, depression, and
restlessness, to name a few.
But people can, and do, stop--once they find the right reason. One of my patients quit the day I told him he had lung cancer. Here's a list of 50 other reasons. Some
are scientifically based, some a stretch. I hope there's one here that rings a bell with each of you.
1. I'll have fewer wrinkles.
2. After the first year, I'll have saved enough for a Caribbean cruise.
3. My breath will smell better than my dog's.
4. After the second year, I can spend the money I saved on the person I met on last year's Caribbean cruise.
5. I'll be around to see my grandchildren.
6. I won't have to worry about impotence with my new wife, whom I met on the Caribbean cruise two years ago. 7. I won't have to go outside between courses at a
8. There are new drugs that can help, including bupropion (Zyban).
9. My physician won't need to "counsel" me anymore.
10. I'll live longer.
11. I won't feel like a leper in public.
12. I won't have to worry about how smoking is ruining my health.
13. The average person tries to stop smoking at least four times before succeeding. I'm on No. 3, and I don't want to be average.
14. I won't have to hide my habit from my children.
15. My fingers won't get frostbitten when I go outside.
16. I'll be able to exercise more.
17. In time, I'll have the same life expectancy as a nonsmoker.
18. My cat won't get emphysema.
19. I'll cough less.
20. I'll be able to taste and smell food again.
21. My children will have fewer ear and respiratory infections.
22. My lipstick won't smudge.
23. I won't have to wonder if my date is bothered by cigarette smoke.
24. My teeth will be whiter.
25. I won't waste time looking for a smoking area everywhere I go.
26. No more wheezing.
27. I won't have to listen to talk about what it's like to kiss an ashtray.
28. The same drug (Zyban) that can help me stop smoking can also help prevent weight gain, which in turn will save me from spending money on Medifast coupons.
29. My plants won't turn brown.
30. My baby will be at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome.
31. My fingers won't turn brown, unless of course I've been eating messy food.
32. It's one less thing to carry around.
33. My lungs won't turn brown.
34. No more burning holes in my clothes.
35. My spouse will be less likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer.
36. I'll have to pull off the road only when I need gas.
37. My car won't reek.
38. I won't need to look forward to receiving oxygen through a nasal tube.
39. My house won't reek.
40. I'll save my unborn child from nicotine withdrawal.
41. I won't reek. Even if I take weird health supplements...I hope.
42. I'll be able to play with my grandchildren without gasping.
43. I won't have to feel second class anymore.
44. No more nicotine fits on airplanes.
45. I'll have more energy.
46. I'll save money on dry cleaning.
47. I'll make new friends.
48. I'll be able to get rid of something that is controlling my life.
49. I'll be a good role model for my children.
50. I'm ready.
There's help available: medications, gums, and patches that can be tailored to your needs, as well as scores of effective programs that can increase your odds of
success, including resident ones where you check in, stay for a week, and receive intensive intervention. At the Mayo program, our quit rates are around 45%. See
your physician for help, and set a stop date today.
Source: Donald D. Hensrud, M.D.,
Director of the Mayo Clinic Executive Health Program