It is by far America’s leading addiction when assessed in terms of damaging our nation’s health. However, tobacco does not need to have this unenviable distinction. Millions of Americans attest that this habit can be kicked, because they have done it. And the best news of all is that if you are a smoker, you can be successful in “kicking the habit.”
Motivation to Quit
There is no question that the knowledge of smoking’s physical harms can provide some of the most powerful motivations to quit. Such information has helped motivate many to kick the habit, as shown here:
The trends following the Surgeon General’s announcement provide strong evidence that knowledge of smoking’s dangers can help a smoker decide to quit. Some of the information in this lesson on the physical harms of smoking will be familiar. However, much of it will not be. The full scope of smoking’s damage has not been well publicized. In a 1983 Harris survey, health professionals rated “not smoking” as the very first priority among activities that Americans could do to protect their health. The public, however, rated “not smoking” a distant 10th on the list of important health-protective behaviors.
Public health professionals often stand amazed at how complacent we are as a society regarding smoking. For nearly 20 years, influential public health voices have called smoking the most dangerous public issue that we face. In 1979, the U.S. public health service called smoking “the largest single preventable cause of illness and premature death in the United States.” C. Everett Koop made a bold pronouncement three years later during his tenure as Surgeon General. He pronounced smoking “the most important public health issue of our time.” Dr. Ronald Davis, in citing such statements, points out, “Future historians will look back with amazement that it took society so long to control the use of tobacco.”
Why does the public seem to have a different view of this addiction than professionals? Part of the reason relates to tobacco industry practices of exercising a type of censorship against bad press regarding nicotine and smoking. They accomplish this by influencing the coverage of information in magazines that are dependent on tobacco advertising dollars for their existence. Actual research studies show that magazines that depend largely on cigarette advertising are less likely to feature articles dealing with smoking’s hazards. This is particularly noticeable in women’s magazines.
There are other risks from smoking besides those that affect the personal health of smokers. We will also examine these issues in our lectures. Each can play a role in helping a smoker see more clearly the negative aspects of the smoking habit. This will help each smoker advance in the process of ultimately quitting for good. Some of these other risks include the damages of secondhand smoke, the costs of smoking—not only to the individual—but to his or her family and employer, and the smoker’s personal example and its effect on the next generation of Americans.*
*Above Reference in part is from "Proof Possitive" by Neil Nedley, M.D.
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