Miss Lori’s Go Red BetterU Week 11; quit smoking so we won’t die

I just got back from Blogher, the premier blogging conference that was held in New York City. I had such a lovely time talking to women and men about the American Heart Association BetterU program at the Go Red For Women booth on the expo floor. As the Summer Ambassador for the program, my pitch was simple: Get better so you don’t die. That’s what it breaks down to for me. And week 11 is a big piece of that surviving puzzle for me, because week 11 is all about cigarette smoke. (Or evil in a cloud as I refer to it.) I have never smoked and I never will, because if I were to do so I most assuredly would stop breathing. No, I’m not just being dramatic. I have always had trouble with cigarette smoke. Being around it makes my lungs tight. Too much exposure makes me profoundly ill.

I remember many years ago performing an industrial in Las Vegas, (a mini, live theatrical production in promotion of a particular brands’ objectives). I spent nearly a week in a sealed hotel that allowed smoking in the rooms and all over the casino floor. I remember trying in vain to hold my breath from the elevator to the front door so I wouldn’t have to inhale the poison. I could actually feel it eating away at me on the inside. And that’s exactly what it did. Because by the time I got home from the trip I had the worst case of bronchitis and walking pneumonia that I have ever had in my life. It took my voice away for weeks. (This was really hard since I was just starting rehearsals for the National tour of Showboat!) It was a nightmare, all because of cigarette smoke.

I do a fairly good job of avoiding cigarette smoke in my everyday life now thanks in part to stricter rules about public smoking. Also as a result of recent laws banning smoking in bars and restaurants, I can finally have a social life, whereas before I used to get stopped in my tracks at the door if when opening a blast of cigarette smoke would come my way. However, the worst thing for me right now is when I hug one of my littlest fans after a concert and smell cigarette smoke on their clothes. That truly breaks my heart. Because I know what that exposure is doing to them. I know how much danger that exposure is putting them in. Yes I said danger. About 38,000 deaths are caused by other people’s smoke each year. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke, and exposure increases a child’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infections and asthma attacks.

When I was a child my parents smoked, both of them. I suffered from countless ear infections and upper respiratory infections. At the time there weren’t studies pointing to the connection between those chronic illnesses and second hand smoke exposure, but I could feel it. I used to beg my parents to stop. I would brazenly flush their cigarettes down the toilet. I would get punished for it, but it wouldn’t stop me. I would just go and do it again. My parents loved me and wanted to keep me safe. If they had known, truly understood how their cigarette smoke was hurting me, they would have stopped. But at the time they just thought I was inconvenienced and being bratty. They did stop eventually, when I was 9. What made them stop? Something that happens to a lot of smokers, my dad got sick. He had to have a triple bypass surgery. You see cigarette smoking accounts for nearly 440,000 of annual deaths. Smokers have a higher risk of developing several chronic disorders such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (lung problems), and atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty substances in the arteries). It was that build up that happened to my Dad. His doctor told both of my parents to quit or die. (Again, pretty straightforward.) So they did. And they are both still with me today.

The decision for my parents to quit was easy, but the actual quitting was hard, as it is for many people. Make no mistake – nicotine is extremely addictive. Cigarette smoking isn’t a little hobby that you put down and walk away from. Your body becomes dependent on it, and so does your mind. Smokers have to work very hard at untangling their associations with cigarettes. Their smoking routines per se. As well, they have to purge the nicotine from their bodies and teach their systems to survive without it. Luckily nowadays there are many products and programs out there designed to help people be more successful at quitting.

Let’s face it, even if we don’t smoke ourselves, we all probably know someone who does. So we need to come together as a community to help them breathe life, not smoke. We can do this by making it a priority and getting involved. The American Heart Association encourages us all to give our support to the following efforts:

  • Support strong federal laws. Learn more about federal regulation of tobacco
  • and regulation of tobacco as a women’s health issue.
  • Support the establishment of smoke-free workplaces and clean indoor air policies.
  • Support increasing tobacco excise taxes at the local, state, and federal levels.
  • Support the funding of tobacco control and prevention programs.

Then together we can make the air cleaner, our lungs freer and our lives longer.



This is a Level 2 and a level 9 post, Miss Lori is a Go Red BetterU Program Ambassador for the Summer of 2010

Miss Lori can be found Musing from her Minivan at MissLori.TV , Wearetherealdeal.com , YoungChicagonista , ChicagoMomsBlog , and ChicagoMoms.com. She is the Chicago Family Entertainment Blogger for Examiner.com and a Discussion Leader for MomsLikeMeChicago. You can also see her Activating to Be Great at Miss Lori’s CAMPUS on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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