Updated: Dec 19, 2018
I lost my mother in 1997, age 61. I am my mother’s age now, and I feel better than I did 25 years ago!
In 1964, the Surgeon General’s released the first report on smoking. It caused a rapid drop in smoking among men. Yet smoking rates among women continued to increase in the years immediately following the report. Why? Tobacco companies began aggressively marketing to women. Cigarette companies created a line of slimmer cigarettes packaged in pastel colors to appeal to women and implied that smoking could keep girls and women thin. They also used slogans, advertising, and sports sponsorships to tie their products to the women’s rights movement throughout the 1960s and 1970s. I know, I loved the ads.
I WAS ONE OF THEM.
In 1966, 50% of men and 30% of women smoked. By 1972, the number of men dropped to 48% while the number of females increased to 38%. I was one of those women. I was born into a family of smokers. Mom and dad, aunts and uncles, older cousins and all my grandparents smoked. I thought it was normal to walk through a cloud of smoke to get to see Mommy or Daddy.
At 15, I fell prey to the advertisements and started smoking, “You’ve come a long way, baby. You’ve got Virginia Slims now, baby. You’ve come a long, long way.”
The blaze of ads catering to my generation of females along with a family of smokers created the distortion in my mind: I thought everyone smoked. The Surgeon General’s report was something I heard about at school, but I did not pay close attention. In my junior year of high school, I had a very good teacher who developed an Environmental Science class and she invited me to enroll. I learned a lot about the effects of cigarette smoke on the environment. I wrote an article for the school newspaper, “Goodbye to Smoke," in which I pledged to stop smoking. It was day 1, and I vowed, "Never will I smoke again." I broke that vow within the week. I could not stop. I already had my smoking buddies in school, the ones who went out to the courtyard to have a smoke after class. That was "my crowd." They were, cool, chill and fun to hang out with - no drama. They were my friends, hanging out on the cement, backs up against the bricks.
But at the end of the day, I knew smoking was bad, and walking up the school steps made me breathless.
I actually thought I was cool and thin because I smoked. I smoked because it calmed me down and because it was what my family and a lot of my friends did. I smoked because I thought it made me me. Over the years, my young aunts and uncles convinced each other to quit. This should've convinced me, but I still couldn't stop.
I smoked until 1993. I took years to get my life back. I fought with weight gain, moods, depression, lack of self-esteem. Can smoking do all of that to you? I’m not sure, but I know smoking can cause:
COPD (90% cases are linked to smoking)
Heart Attack and other related heart problems
Smokers who have diabetes are more likely to have serious health problems, including:
· heart and kidney disease;
· poor blood flow in the legs and feet that can lead to foot infections, ulcers, and possible amputation of toes or feet;
· retinopathy (an eye disease that can cause blindness); and
· peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves to the arms and legs that cause numbness, pain, weakness, and poor coordination).
As far as being an appetite depressant, I would say no, because I watched my mother inch up on the scale all the while chain smoking!
I lost my mother in 1997, when she was 61. She had a major heart attack and never regained consciousness. When she died, my dad had quit smoking several years before because he had, his doctor told him as my mother gently put it, “a little emphysema, a little bronchitis and a little asthma.” Did my mother have any of these diseases? She was never diagnosed, because she would not go to a doctor, and she kept right on smoking. She once confided in me that she could not quit, and when I told her I would make an appointment to take her to the doctor, she refused to go.
I lost my dad last month. He lived with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for over twenty years. He also had bladder cancer and kidney failure when he passed away both of which can be connected back to smoking. BUT, he listened to the doctors in 1995 and gained two good decades of life.
Are you struggling with smoking or with weight gain related to it? I’ve been there. Life can get better. Make Good Choices Now!