Great American Smokeout is the Monday Meme

This Thursday, November 20th, is the American Cancer Society’s annual “smokeout” with the stated goal being to encourage all people who smoke to quit for their own health as well as those they love.

As my father has only just recently passed away after a month long battle with stage four lung cancer, I am feeling particularly vehement that anyone I know should make this the year they quit smoking for good. And not just for their own sakes, but to protect their families and friends.

Having been at my dad’s bedside those last hours, I can assure you that dying from lung cancer is not pretty. His lungs were choked with fluid that by the last day oozed in a continuous steam from his mouth having gurgled up his bronchial tubes and throat. The light brown mucus was flecked with dried blood and small chunks of a darker brown matter. When in the grips of a coughing spell, the phelgm would foam out of his nose and he would turn dark red with the futile effort of trying to clear his lungs. 

I can’t imagine dying as he did. But I should try because between him and other family members I have spent good chunks of my life inhaling their cast off smoke. My lungs have been bathed in the same carcinogens and I could just as easily be a victim of lung cancer as my Dad was.

And it’s not just in the air. Smoke clings to clothing and hair and furnishings. It seeps into walls and permeates carpeting. It finds its way into air ducts or filters through open windows. It hangs in the air, wafting its way into the breathing space of anyone who happens by whether they are indoors or out.

I am not mollified by those who “only smoke outdoors” or sit in the increasingly rare smoking areas. Air has no boundaries. 

The meme for today is to send this, or some other word, of the Great American Smokeout to someone you know who smokes. Thank you.

9 thoughts on “Great American Smokeout is the Monday Meme

  1. I started smoking when I started college, just a pack or two a week, but it was becoming a habit. My husband and I met at a coffee shop and got to know each other while we spent night after night talking over coffee and cigarettes. Then on our first date he informed me that he quit smoking. Cold turkey. I quit that night, too, because I didn’t want to smell all smokey if he didn’t. That was 33 years ago, and even though I sometimes missed smoking I never started up again. He probably saved my life.

  2. I don’t know how old my dad was when he started smoking. Probably young, though. He died when he was 56, pretty much from a variety of complications centred around diabetes.

    I had fairly vivid recollections of hours long road trips in a closed car as Dad smoked cigarette after cigarette. We kids used to get “car sick” and so Mom would feed us Gravol. I know now, though, that we weren’t care sick. We were being poisoned by second hand smoke.

    Back in the day before convenience stores and Sunday shopping, I can also recall my dad dredging through the ashtray in the car for longer butts because he had planned poorly and run out of smokes on the weekend.

    I saw a curious evolution with my (first) mother-in-law. Initially, the smoking was hard and heavy at the kitchen table whenever we were out at the farm. Gradually, though, she moved away from the table to the counter. And then to the porch and, in nicer weather, outdoors. She never did manage to quit though, no matter how many aids my late wife bought for her or how much encouragement she gave her mom.

    I remember one conversation my late wife, S, had with her older sister, C, (the one who still smokes):

    C: I know why you don’t like people smoking around you. Because it stinks! Well, some people have B.O. and stink pretty bad. How come you don’t make them go outside?
    S: Other people’s B.O. doesn’t give me cancer.

    This was before S was diagnosed with melanoma that was ultimately fatal. I wonder if C remembers that conversation?

    Fortunately, C is the only one of S’s siblings who smoke. Less can be said of my three siblings; all three have the habit.

    You would think that knowing of the hazard would be a sufficient deterrent, wouldn’t you?

    Evidently not.

  3. OMG! I quit smoking earlier this year, and must say that the last few weeks have really been a battle to me. Every day, I have won the battle to not light up. This is after smoking for about 25 years.

    Oddly enough, your post adds to my struggle. You see, November 20th marks the four year memorial date of my late daughter’s memorial service. She passed away on Nov 18 of 2004, at the age of 11 from brain cancer. Probably needless to say, she never smoked.

    To see this Smokeout fall on such a day almost makes me indignantly want to say “Heck with it, I’ll light up!” Luckily, I have included the word almost in the previous sentence.

  4. My parents both smoked a ton and died young (in their 50s). I don’t smoke at all. I think having parents who smoked a lot can sometimes be a great anti-smoking campaign.

  5. I also have asthma, probably from years of living with smokers. One of the best things Washington state ever did was to ban indoor smoking in all places of employment, including bars and restaurants. Despite dire predictions, very few, if any, bars died of the ban. The ones who suffered were what I call drunk bars, where the patrons start early in the morning, and spend the day with a beer and a cigarette. Thankfully, most of my nieces and nephews have never been exposed to smoke in their lifetimes. The one brother who did smoke quit after my mother died of heart disease 14 years ago.

  6. My mom never smoked but she lived with smokers her entire life. She now has an incurable lung disease from second hand smoke. If you smoke and you have children and/or pets, you should know that you are slowly killing them. Stop telling everyone how much you love your child/pet because you don’t.

  7. I smoke occasionally and am not proud of it.

    The irony of the whole smoking thing for me is I lost my uncle to lung cancer this year, and he had never gone near cigarette or smoker his entire life.

    Your message is resonant, tho, and should be heard by all smokers.

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