Monday, January 11, 2010

Glamorous And Sexy...?

In the film noirs of the 1940s and 1950s, everyone smoked. It was considered glamourous and sexy, even mysterious. Who can imagine Rita Hayworth as "Gilda" without her iconic cigarette holder? Or Bette Davis and Paul Henreid in the final scene of "Now Voyager" where Paul Henreid says, "Shall we just have a cigarette on it?" They each light a cigarette and Bette Davis says, "Let's don't ask for the moon, we have the stars." Does it even get any more romantic than that? Everyone smoked, everyone looked glamorous, and everyone wanted to emulate them. I remember my parents and all their friends smoked. My mother had a gold cigarette case that she carried everywhere with her and a gold cigarette holder. I thought she looked so beautiful and sophisticated, and I wanted to be just like her and her friends when I grew up. Smoking was part of being an adult, and it seemed that everyone who smoked was so much more witty and urbane.

Today we know the truth about smoking. Humphrey Bogart, a heavy smoker, died of cancer of the esophagus at the age of 57. We know now that smoking is not glamorous or sophisticated or even sexy. Smokers smell bad and they have raspy coughs. Smoking causes wrinkles, especially around the mouth. The smoke from a smoldering cigarette often contains higher concentrations of the toxins found in cigarette smoke than exhaled smoke does. There is enough nicotine in four or five cigarettes to kill an average adult if ingested whole. Cigarette smoke is a major source of benzene exposure, which is a known cause of acute myeloid leukemia. Secondhand smoke contains more than 50 cancer-causing chemical compounds, 11 of which are known to be Group 1 carcinogens. Every eight seconds, a human life is lost to tobacco use somewhere in the world -- in total, more than motor vehicle accidents, drunk driving, homicides, AIDS, illegal drugs and fires -- daily. Still sound glamorous and sexy?

If this sounds like a lecture, it's because it is. A friend of mine died a few days ago from lung cancer caused by cigarette smoking. I don't want that to happen to you. I like you and I want to keep you around for a long time yet. The good news is, here is what you can expect if you are a smoker and you quit today.

In 20 minutes:
• Blood pressure drops to normal, pulse rate drops to normal, body temperature of hands and feet increases to normal.
In 8 hours:
• Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal; oxygen level in blood increases to normal.
In 24 hours:
• Chance of heart attack decreases.
In 48 hours:
• Nerve endings start regrowing, ability to smell and taste is enhanced.
In 2 weeks to 3 months:
• Circulation improves, walking becomes easier, lung function increases up to 30%.
In 1 to 9 months:
• Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease; cilia regrow in lungs, increasing ability to clean the lungs, and reduce infection; body's overall energy increases.
In 1 year:
• Excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.
In 5 years:
• Lung cancer death rate for average smoker decreases by almost half; stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker.
In 10 years:
• Lung cancer death rate similar to that of nonsmokers, precancerous cells are replaced; risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases.
In 15 years:
• Risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker.



Firefly said...

Smoking is so not cool. It also played a part in my farthers death, so I would never encourage anybody to even try it.

Bruce Coltin said...

Luckily for me, having two chain smokers for parents, I never got beyond the choking from my first attempt. I had no potential to be a good smoker. Having said that, I'm still in love with Rita. Do you remember The Lady From Shanghai?

DUTA said...

I've noticed lately an increase in the number of young women smokers. I suspect it has to do with the belief that smoking is the shortest way to slimming. Anyway,it sure is the shortest way to heaven.

Infidel753 said...

Good post. Nowadays it seems bizarre and surreal to watch an old movie and see people smoking everywhere.

That list of the effects of quitting needs to be seen by everyone.

Irina said...

7 years ago I stopped smoking after 15 years of chain-smoking. Still I can not believe I could stop, lucky me. Started because I thought I looked older and sexy :-)) Thank you for reminding about this huge problem.

Hilary said...

I started smoking in high school to be "cool" and fit in. I quit 29 years ago when I knew I wanted to have kids. It's a horrible habit which negatively affects so many.

ivan said...

Just to be contrary, what if this is one more medical orthodoxy, like don't use water on burns, fuelled by lazy coroners?

Did he smoke? Yes.
Well, that's what must have killed him.
The smoking as a cause of cancer is statistically true but not causally true. I believe the next politically correct attack will be on steak--actually, that's happened already. And the overweight? Shame on you, you fat bastard.
It is social engineering to who knows what effect. Non smokers all around me have horrible things like diabetes, lung cancer, leukemia. And yet they lecture to me while puffing on their inhalers.
...and they are a third my age.

Mark my word. The next attack will be on driving. The same death statistics.

Kimberly said...

We can't save the world...smoke if you must, smoke if you will but just don't blow it my way.

TC said...

Just gave it up after almost 40 years and I'm only in my early 50s!! They got too expensive for my husband... it's been over 6 mo for him, I tapered off 2 mo for me but I was going days w/o before. We smell EVERYTHING now but we didn't have the coughing etc and we are still married. LOL Now we can smell it on others and HOPE we didn't smell like THAT.

Charles Gramlich said...

I remember when smoking was sexy. Not sure why, though.

Brenda said...

Been there, done that. Glad I am a non smoker now. I just got so tired of it all. All of the restrictions put on smoking is really what lead me to quit, to be honest. It is too difficult to have an addicting habit like that and then to have to sneak around and go wayyyy over there...etc., etc. Can't smoke here or there or anywhere, except in your own home. I am glad the rules changed though because if everyone still did it like they did many years ago...I probably would too....and wouldn't be around right now to write this comment. Sadly, there are still many many people who develop these cancers that should be related to smoking and the person never smoked. Like mouth cancer and esophageal cancer. I know a few people that had these and they never smoked or lived with second hand smoke. But it is just a nasty stinky habit.

Michelle said...

I still can't wrap my head around why people continue to or begin smoking. I see young people start smoking all the time. One girl had childhood leukemia, beat it and since graduation of high school, became a smoker!

my boyfriends father smokes even though he just had a huge cancer scare. Not to mention his brother died from heart failure due to emphazima from smoking.

My dads girlfriend has breast cancer and still smokes too!

North carolina has just banned smoking in all bars and restaurants! yay!!!!

Carol E. said...

How timely. I am trying to help a student of mine quit smoking. Just yesterday I read those same statistics at the American Cancer Society website. I'm tired of smelling the Big Stink when she comes in to see me.

The Bug said...

When my nephews were small they used to go right up to complete strangers who were smoking & tell them that they were going to die.

Ivan is right in that I sure do things that lower my life expectancy (another biggie fry please!). On the other hand, leaving out cancer, it really is a smelly disgusting habit. I don't like the smell of cigarette smoke any more than I like the smell of day old grease...

corabela said...

I smoked for 12 years and having quit 2 a half years ago, I can honestly say "What the hell was I thinking?"

My mother-in-law and her boyfriend smoke constantly and it has actually deterred my husband and I from wanting to spend time with them on holidays. Sometimes we're just too tired to deal with all the lung pains and sore throats we get from being in her house all day. We really wish they would quit.

Deedee said...

As a former smoker, I can say without a doubt that there is life after quitting. Like any addiction, you get tricked into thinking your life will suck without the object of your obsession, but it doesn't. It's been a couple of years since I had a cigarette and I am so happy to have that nicotine monkey off my back. If only I could get my husband to quit for good.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! I've never smoked, but smoking certainly contributed to my sister's death. And my dear friend, Ed, died of lung cancer in '08.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I'm so very sorry for the loss of your friend.

Katy said...

I was just having this conversation with my daughter. Not the cancer part. She knows smoking is gross and bad for you. The old movies part. I am a huge fan of old movies and we got into a conversation about there used to be advertisements with doctors recomending certian brands of cigerattes... my how times have changed.

Kathryn said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Jo.

Nicotine is so addictive & hard to give up (i'm told). I've never even tried a cigarette.

Interesting, however, as far as i know not a single child (out of 8) on my dad's side smoked. They raised tobacco. One of my uncles even says that grandpa told them about the dangers of smoking as they raised the stuff. That, of course, makes me question the ethics of growing it to a degree. But they were a dirt poor family trying to scratch out a living, i guess. In later years the farm was not used for the 'bacca. I guess maybe then they had enough $$ to live by their ethics.

Kathryn said...

Oh, i forgot to add . . .

I've never been around as many smokers in my life as when i worked hospital. I couldn't believe the number of folks, but particularly RNs, who smoked.

And i remember seeing the "Body Works" exhibit (which in itself i know is controversial, but fascinating) & seeing the comparison of smoker's lungs with non-smoker's lungs.

Indian Pundit said...

I don't want that to happen to you. I like you and I want to keep you around for a long time yet.

Thank you.

Its sexy NOT to smoke.

and i am sexy!!


A never touched a cigarette in my life.

Russell said...

I am sorry to hear your friend died. Regardless of the cause, that is very sad.

Try to remember the good times, the good memories of your friendship.

But, again, I am sorry for your loss.

kenju said...

Sorry about your friend.

I quit smoking after 23 years and 2-3 packs a day. It was the single hardest thing I've ever done, and the very best thing too. It is the thing I am most proud of (after my children). I have now not smoked for longer than I did smoke.....YAY!

TomCat said...

Josie, when I saw 'glamorous and sexy' under your blog in my blogroll, I rushed right over expecting an autobiography about how glamorous and sexy you are. What a disappointment it was to get a smoking lecture, after having just gotten two yesterday from my pulmonologist and is assistant, even it it is right on.

Whitney Lee said...

I'm trying to get my husband to quit for a multitude of reasons...
I quit when I was pregnant with my first child. It was the hardest thing to do and there are times I still miss it. Still, I'm glad I don't have that dependency or the waste of money or the health issues.
I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. It's bound to be even more frustrating and painful because it could have (possibly) been avoided. I'm afraid that at some point I will lose my mother or my in laws the same way.

SparkleFarkle said...

WOW! Talk about Twilight Zoney! Without blopping first, to know the latest blog buzz, I just posted my today's blog, which also addresses "Stop Smoking" issues! We be In Sync-ers, again! (P.S. And, for what it's worth, I mention The Twilight Zone, in it, too. LOL!)

NOPE. Cancer sticks are not glamorous. Not only does secondhand smoke make me ill, but merely watching someone's mouth pull on a cigarette makes me nauseated. "The ugly puff makes for ugly stuff!" --SparkleFarkle, ranting.

SparkleFarkle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SparkleFarkle said...

Me, again.

My P.S.: I applaud the Quiters, and my heart goes out to those in the midst of giving up this terrible habit. It sounds like a dreadful ordeal to have to go through. Bravo! to all who finish hoeing that terrible row.

This past month found Puppet (daughter) and I mega-dosing on Asian Horror movies (all made within the last five years at most, and watching them: not as dangerous as a tobacco addiction). We were shocked at how much cigarette smoking was glammed-up in them, with the youngest actors being the BIGGEST puffers.

Cloudia said...

Afraid I was lost in the glamour...did you say something, Jo?

But seriously, a great post!

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Marguerite said...

So sorry about the loss of your friend, Jo. Smoking is without a doubt, one of the worse things that a person can do for their health. I remember the 50's TV shows, where everyone smoked. So bizarre, in retrospect. Both of my children are non- smokers, for which I am so thankful!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I often think of how the movie stars of my youth all smoked and epitomized glamour and sexiness. No wonder nearly everyone of my generation was a smoker. (At 12, I tried to smoke a stolen cigarette in the locked bathroom but ended up flushing it along with my hopes of ever becoming sexy.)

What astounds me is all the young people who smoke today. There is no excuse for them - we all know how dangerous and nasty a habit it is. Are they trying to lose weight or is it a statement that they are too cool to worry about such unimportant things as their health, and those around them?

I grew up in a house filled with secondhand smoke and have had pneumonia five times while my brother was an asthmatic child. My father died young of heart disease.

Few things smell as rank to me as smokers, even if they are not smoking at the moment. Very sexy indeed.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Both my parents puffed away like chimneys, luckily they both quit in their 40's and went on to live until they were 80. My brother and sister and I hated going on road trips because we were stuck in the back seat inhaling all their second hand smoke. None of us ever took up the nasty habit. I lost an aunt to lung cancer, not a pretty way to die. What a well-written post, people really bought into the myth that smoking was glamorous, and I'm afraid a whole new generation is falling pray to the same B.S.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Good advice! My husband smokes, but is not allowed to smoke inside. Besides the fact that it stinks, I have asthma. I never smoked, but my parents did and I have had asthma as long as I can remember.

Maggie May said...

When I was born till my teens my parents both smoked. I married a smoker and all his family smoked. I can remember when I went to the doctor about some sort of stress I was going through, that he told me to take up smoking as it would help my nerves.
Glad I didn't take his advice.
Fortunately all my family managed to quite smoking and that meant I wasn't a passive smoker any more.
My dad died of pulmonary fibrosis.

Nuts in May

the walking man said...

I smoke...close to 50 years, I make no bones about it.

But if all of you who don't smoke want to complain then stop allowing your governments to EXPORT tobacco(Ontario is Canada tobacco production capital) for profit to third world countries.

Smokers now PAY for the privilege of smoking by being a singled out class that pays heavy taxes on each cigarette. But because most people do not smoke now, that singling out for an excise levy is all right.

Personally I think perfume and scented anything should be taxed at the same rate as tobacco because sitting next to someone who refuses to wash and covers up their foul body odor with copious amounts of tested on animal scents smells more disgusting than smoke.

But of course there is no political correctness in that idea because we all just love sitting within ten feet of a person who just doesn't care that their cologne or perfume may trigger allergies in others.

*shrug* If you choose perfume or cologne, I choose tobacco. The only difference is I pay for my choice to the government treasury.

Mia said...

Smoking is repulsive in every possible way.

I absolutely hate it when women bathe in perfume but a very big difference between the two is that secondhand perfume won't kill you.

Paula Slade said...

Well said Jo.