Conditions

Cigarettes in U.S. More Toxic than Rest of World

| by Toni Brayer MD

I hold my breath when I walk into the hospital and see a small group of people in the "smoking area" puffing hard on cigarettes. The hospital (and other office buildings) are smoke free, but that doesn't mean everyone has stopped smoking. They just have to stand out in the fog or the cold like lepers.  I know in other parts of the country, smoking is more tolerated and even more smoking occurs. Unfortunately, after declining for a few years, the number of smokers in the U.S. has now remained stable at 21%. About 438,000 Americans die each year because of tobacco use, the CDC said. The agency estimated that for every death, there are 20 people living with a tobacco-related illness.

A study was just published that showed U.S. smokers are exposed to higher levels of cancer-causing compounds than smokers in other countries. The researchers compared the levels of nitrosamines in cigarette butts and dangerous metabolites in smoker's urine and found the levels were significantly higher in cigarettes manufactured in the U.S. compared to smokers in other countries.

Is there anything about the dangers of cigarettes that we haven't heard over and over? It is time for all smokers to quit, and a new small book by Cassius Cheong called Positively Quit! Manual -The Thinking Person's Guide to Stop Smoking is a new tool that can help.

This tiny book engages the reader to answer some easy questions about how and why they smoke and why they want to quit. Just the process of thinking clearly about why and writing it down can help with behavior change. And the author addresses some common misconceptions people have about quitting that can hang them up.

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The book is short and gives some tips for how to handle the first few days of quitting. Coupled with other aids like nicotine patches or gum, it makes stopping cigarettes an active process that takes planning and day-by-day attention.

If you smoke or know someone who does, this little book may be the first step in getting healthier and reducing the terrible risks that we know smokers have. Buy it as a gift. It is the nicest thing you can do for someone you care about.