Most every smoker wants to [stop smoking] at some point in time. It seems like this time of year people think about it more frequently. Every year, people look forward to the new beginning that January 1st offers. It feels good to look the previous year in the eye and wish it a fond farewell. It’s also a time when people make New Year’s Resolutions, like stopping smoking. Many of us like to make these kind of life improving decisions and I suppose, the new year seems like as good a time as any to start.
Quitting smoking is a lot like trying to lose weight. I would venture to guess that sales of [quit smoking aids] are highest in January. Coincidentally, isn’t that when you see the most people at the gym? Resolutions are great, but only if you can stick to them. Roughly 1 in every 5 Americans smoke. What an amazing statistic. That number has been pretty stable over the last two decades or so. This is despite the mounting evidence that tells us how bad smoking is to our health. For every person who dies from a smoking related disease, there is a new person just starting out their career as a life long smoker.
So why does smoking seem stuck in this cycle of perpetuity? I believe there are two powerful factors at play. First of all, smoking has become an affliction that strikes those in lower socio-economic circles. Sadly, this population usually has less education. Researchers have found that smoking has a much higher prevalency rate among the lesser educated. Also, there is a casualness associated with smoking initiation. It doesn’t take a PhD to start smoking. Anyone can do it. In fact, a small child made headlines last year as video of him smoking hit the net. So learning how to smoke is literally, child’s play.
Next, we are finding that the culture surrounding smoking, is a strong one. Many kids searching for acceptance will find a willing partner in the smoking community. Parents and other influential adults often set poor examples for the youth in their lives to follow.
So as we look forward at our national stop smoking policy, we need to be mindful of these two lesser known challenges to smoking cessation. We must find a way to put a stop to the cycle that is at play here. The next generation needs the education and help, so they don’t suffer the same medical and financial fall out that we are currently experiencing.
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