By Julia Adams
Most people have at one point been told that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. It has been proven that it accounts for more than 480,000 deaths per year, which is equivalent to 1 in 5 deaths being related to cigarette use.
This topic has been discussed so many times that it seems to have watered down the concept.
Many people are hearing about this dilemma over and over again, and it soon becomes old news.
Along the lines of the over-saturated information about smoking, cigarettes contain carcinogens that can cause cancer. This is part of the reason why smoking causes more deaths than HIV, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, motor vehicle injuries and firearm-related incidents combined.
The discussion of smoking has become merely an echo whenever it is brought up in this day and age. The best way to understand the true effect of this issue is reality and there is plenty of reality when it comes to a situation like this.
My grandfather, who had smoked since he was young, had a stroke a few years back. He was lucky that the effects of it were not as serious as they could be. During his recovery, he was forced to quit smoking, as he couldn’t walk well enough to get outside by himself.
A few years later, he was hospitalized after he was sick and didn’t get better. The doctors never could confirm for certain what he had, as the procedure to test what they thought he had would be too much for him, but they believed strongly that he had myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a condition in which both red and white blood cells struggle to be replaced.
My mom and I drove up every day for two months to be with him as he moved from place to place. I watched as his health declined more and more gradually throughout the process.
He began to struggle to even breathe and it was hard to watch him in such a miserable state. He eventually passed away at the age of 85. He was extremely lucky to have lived that long for all the years he smoked.
Eighteen months later, my grandmother was hospitalized for stomach pains and a urinary tract infection. She was found to have a tumor in her abdomen. There was no way they could find out if it was cancerous or not, but it was highly suspected.
She, too, suffered tremendously, and it was similarly as brutal. She wanted to live to 100, as old as her mother, but she died at 86.
She might not have suffered this way if it were not for the decades of secondhand smoke. Smoking doesn’t just affect the smoker, but the people around them as well.
These accounts help to expose the true nature of smoking. Facts and statistics only show part of the story. The reality is that smoking takes so much from the quality of one’s life.
Luckily, this problem is beginning to subside. According to reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of adults in the U.S. that smoke has reduced by 20.9 percent. This shows that the popular discussion does in fact have somewhat of an influence. But this issue isn’t over yet.
It is imperative that campaigns against smoking be taken seriously. The problem of smoking is not a light topic in the least. Smoking takes up so much of one’s life and it even causes serious damage to their health. It is hard to understand until it comes down to witnessing a loved one suffer from the effects that smoking creates.
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