Still smoking cigarettes? Perhaps this can help

Tom KingOur Town Health

My father gave up cigarettes at age 45. He died in 2010 at 93. My mother never stopped smoking. She died in 1987 at 64. At the age of 13, asking my friends to come to our home ended. The smell. Everything in our house reeked of cigarette smoke. Clothes, furniture, curtains, wallpaper, rugs and carpets. My sniffer sniffed ‘em all to be sure.

The 24/7/365 odor was embarrassing. And really affected my allergies and eyes. It was a gross, repulsive smell and the catalyst for my lifelong hatred of cigarettes.

Remember those candy cigarettes? They tasted good to kids. Many candy cigarette packs had brand names and packaging identical to the real ones — Camel, Chesterfield, Kool, Lucky Strike, Marlboro, Pall Mall, Philip Morris and Winston. Cigarette commercials were seen by children day and night on TV until Congress banned them after 1971. These candy marketing tools are banned in Canada, England, Brazil, Finland, Norway and Ireland, but candy cigarettes are still sold in the United States. Old habits are hard to break, or so it’s said.

It never worked on me. In 77 years in this world my lips have never, not once, had a cigarette between them.

This past Sunday on Easter Day, Dr. Charlie Barnett’s “Medical Moments” column, published in the Rotary Club of Farragut’s (RCF) weekly newsletter, took me back to my early days of hating cigarettes and why. Charlie, as we call him, is a longtime member of the RCF, and you may know him or know of him. In 2025 he will celebrate 50 years of practicing medicine in Knoxville, Knox County and East Tennessee.

He is an internal medicine specialist in Loudon and a Farragut resident who graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in 1975. He has vast experience as an ER doctor as well. In 1992, as a Rotarian, it was Charlie and a colleague who worked with our club and began “Free Flu Shot Saturday” until the tents for this event were finally folded.

As a public service to our smokers, here is Charlie’s “Medical Moment” column. For those who still light up their cigarettes, the results of a significant study should open eyes and minds.

Dr. Barnett writes:

“Frequently when reading medical articles, the results reported have such low statistical significance one wonders if the authors have actually proven anything. However, occasionally an article comes along with such strong evidence, the reader concludes it must be the gospel truth.

“Such an article was reported last month in the New England Journal of Medicine. The death registries of 1.48 million adults followed over 15 years compared smokers and never smokers. The results, quoting from the article are: “Survival between 40 and 79 years of age was 12 and 13 years less in women and men, respectively, who smoked compared with never smokers.”

“In case your eyes did not connect to your brain, I repeat: If you smoke and are in this age group, you will probably live 12 to 13 years less.

“However, all is not lost. Quitting smoking, particularly before age 40, was associated with longer survival. Cessation of smoking of three years averted five years of life lost, whereas quitting 10 years or more averted 10 years of lost life.

“Quitting smoking is incredibly difficult. Step 1 is making up your mind, today (not waiting another minute).

Step 2 is seeing your doctor. There are safe, non-habit-forming medications.”

To stop or not is the question.

Tom King is a career journalist and a past president of the Rotary Club of Farragut.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *