Smoking cigarettes is not as common as it used to be. Gone are the days when we saw Andy Griffith smoking in bed while he pondered the day’s events. The Marlboro man has disappeared into the sunset and movie stars hide their habit. Still, millions continue to enjoy the sensation and pleasure they get from a good smoke, despite the dangers. Smokers have become outcasts in a way as they are shoved outside to light up. The addiction of smoking and that ugly cough lingers as the rebels are shunned and scolded.
Former smokers are proud of kicking the habit and often offer helpful tips in quitting. Smoking cessation programs are available and are sometimes required by employers in today’s world. Businesses have become smoke-free zones and cigarette ads have been banned. Smoking is just not cool, anymore.
The facts have been documented and warning labels are in plain view, yet cigarettes are still purchased everyday. Smoking causes serious ailments including cancer and long term smokers usually end up with a nagging cough. The cough may or may not mean lung cancer, but it can be an annoying disturbance to the smoker and those around them.
Smoking produces that ugly cough as the lungs try to get rid of the toxins inhaled. Morning coughing jags become a routine for the smoker as all organs are in full detoxification mode after a night’s sleep. After a long rest, it is all systems go to get rid of the body’s accumulated waste, and the lungs join right in. The air sacs in the lungs try to clean house, producing a smoker’s cough.
Besides a cough, smokers risk many illnesses and terminal diseases. Generally, everyone is well aware of the cancer threat, but other ailments such as emphysema, asthma, chronic bronchitis and C.O.P.D. can be just as bad. C.O.P.D. stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which can be managed with medicines and inhalers. The stinky, dirty habit leaves the smoker with black lungs and a smelly house. No amount of air fresheners, candles or mints can mask the odor, especially to the smoker, as their sense of smell becomes useless.
The American Cancer Society has declared the third Thursday of November as the annual Great American Smokeout. It occurs in conjunction with Movember, which brings awareness of prostrate and testicular cancer. Men can grow a moustache and quit smoking all in the same month. Now, that is something to be thankful for. The Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to quit for at least the day and try to develop a long range plan of giving up smoking for good.
Lungs can heal and health can be restored by smoking cessation. The ugly cough slowly disappears, blood pressure is lowered, blood counts return to normal and circulation is improved. For some, the years of damage might not be completely aleviated, but the person generally feels better. Smoking can cause lung cancer, but non-smokers are not immune to the disease. Heredity and environment also play a part in the diagnosis.
The number of smokers has dropped considerably since 1971 when magazine advertising was banned by the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act. New laws have recently allowed advertising to resurface in magazines with a target age of over 23. Electronic cigarettes are gaining in popularity, but long term effects of the substitute, if any, are still not known. Most bars and restaurants observe a smoking ban and do not allow smoking inside the establishment. Many medical centers, hospitals and airports do not permit smoking on or near the premises. Smokers will still somehow find a place to puff away, but their tell tale cough will not be a secret.
By Roanne H. FitzGibbon