From the Desk of Doc Smo – Smoking Update

Fortunately, I have never been a smoker and have never had a desire to begin. I really don’t know why; both my parents smoked cigarettes, as did all of my grandparents. When I was growing up, about 50% of the population smoked. Some of my earliest memories are of being touched by hot cigarettes accidentally. When you are a little kid running around, you seemed to be at just the right level for those dangling hot cigarettes to hit you.


I mention this because I am reading with interest my latest Center for Disease newsletter, which announced their upcoming national anti-smoking campaign. You are about to see a media blitz of graphic antismoking images sponsored by the government (and I suspect funded by the tobacco industry through lawsuit settlements). Experts have figured out that personal tragedy stories linked with graphic images affect behavior just as pro-use marketing images of handsome people do. We are witnessing cigarette marketing in reverse.


I don’t travel much, but even during my relatively small exposure to the streets of Europe, I could not help but notice that Europeans (and possibly other places) have been bitten by the smoking bug big time. While smoking rates are at the lowest ever recorded in the US (21% of the population report being active smokers), much of the rest of the world—including the Europeans—are much more avid smokers. Check out the stats in the Gallup poll I posted in the Smo Notes that follow this article.


65% of adult smokers in the US report beginning by age 18 years, 25% before 16. Teens are very susceptible to the lure of smoking, and the teen years seem to be the most vulnerable time for a person to succumb to the lure of cigarettes. Even though everyone around me smoked as a child, I think the emotional message they sent me was that smoking was a dirty habit and I shouldn’t do it. I am very glad that that message was delivered and heard. I want you, as parents, to commit to giving your children the same message. Go ahead and use the powerful influence you have in shaping your children’s attitudes. Don’t be shy about telling them what you expect and want for them; it is a sign of your love and affection, and they know it. Don’t wait until they are too old, because remember that most adult smokers start by age 18 years. Maybe the new CDC anti-smoking campaign will help reinforce the anti-smoking messages that you are able deliver, and the next generation won’t even know what a cigarette is! Let’s hope.