Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Where There's Smoke

Camping had a prominent role in much of my life.  From family vacations to peaceful adult solitude, time spent in the elements has always been special.  I loved spending evenings by a crackling campfire, listening to woodland sounds and watching the blaze slowly reduced to glowing embers and wisps of smoke.

I have other memories of smoke that aren’t nearly as nostalgic.  A neighborhood school that burned to the ground.  A neighbor’s home that was destroyed by a lightning strike.  For days after the flames died, columns of smoke marked the tragedy.

Then there was cigarette smoke.  It was a constant in my childhood home, on car rides, in restaurants and stores.  I was frequently sick when I rode in a car with smokers.  Later, I would see the toll that smoking took on others.  Lung cancer and emphysema plagued smoking family and friends.  

As the dangers of smoking and second hand smoke were revealed, many tried to quit.  It wasn’t easy then and it still isn’t easy today.  I now have several friends and acquaintances, who have used electronic cigarettes to quit or reduce their smoking habit.  Although the FDA has not yet approved electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation device, it is easy to understand why they can be effective.  Electronic cigarettes contain no tobacco and produce no smoke, but deliver a small amount of nicotine that has been compared to that delivered by a nicotine patch.  Unlike the patch, however, it allows the smoker to experience the satisfaction of smoking a cigarette.  Since electronic cigarettes don’t produce smoke, they also remove concerns about the effects of second-hand smoke.

Whatever method is used, I hope that many smokers will continue to quit.  Smoke belongs in campfires, not your lungs or the lungs of your loved ones.


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