Jay Taylor, Durbin, N.D., Published October 19 2012
Letter: Smoking is major killerWhen I moved to North Dakota about 30 years ago, I was a new non-smoker. I had only stopped smoking for about a week or so and maintaining that stance wasn’t easy (as a matter of fact, I relapsed once, and it wasn’t pretty). I quit for a number of reasons: Smoking had killed my dad at age 56; it had caused my grandfather to lose a leg; and tobacco would go on to kill a number of good friends and relatives. But the main reason I quit was I was acquiring an instant family: a wife with asthma and two little daughters.
I came here as a respiratory therapist to work in a large hospital in Fargo, already with some 14 years in the field, and yeah, yeah, I knew smoking was bad for you and, honestly, I already knew firsthand how hard it was to quit. “Just quit, ya big baby!” That was the advice I got. Not helpful ... but I did manage to finally quit.
We knew nothing of the real dangers of secondhand smoke and I’m pretty sure the term hadn’t even been thought of yet. I knew from growing up in a smoke-filled household that breathing in other people’s smoke was very unpleasant, but we just didn’t know how unpleasant. Now we know how dangerous it is. Even if you don’t smoke, you do smoke if you’re around smokers. You’re breathing in the same toxic stew of harmful chemicals as the smokers around you.
Tobacco smoke contains thousands of dangerous elements and chemical compounds, including formaldehyde, arsenic, cadmium, benzene, polonium, ammonia, carbon monoxide, methanol and hydrogen cyanide. Secondhand smoke has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; low birthweight and lung problems in infants; ear infections; asthma, etc. Secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer and heart disease in nonsmoking adults. It can cause former smokers to relapse. It’s linked to stroke, chronic lung problems and a variety of cancers.
Yeah, I know, rant on. Well, this rant will be shorter than I am capable of. All I’m really asking of the folks in North Dakota is to vote “yes” on Initiated Measure 4 on Nov. 6. This will protect a large portion of the population, including your kids, from the public exposure to secondhand smoke.
No one says you can’t smoke; the measure just regulates smoke away from my nose and lungs. Of course if you want help quitting (the best option) there’s lots of help out there. Start with the North Dakota Quit Line or your own care provider. Quitting today is a whole lot easier than ever before.