Dear Ann Landers, You recently printed a column that listed tips to help people give up cigarettes. The tips came from the St. Helena Health Center in Deer Park, Calif.
I want you to know I did almost everything on the list and have finally given up smoking. The reason I wanted to quit was because of my health. I have diabetes, and both of my grandparents died of lung cancer. Since I quit, I can breathe better, and my diabetes is now under control. Thanks for providing some encouragement for those of us who needed it. -- Kimberly in Virginia
Dear Kimberly, Many readers appreciated the encouragement and wrote to say so. Here's more on the subject of smoking:
From Philadelphia: The column with tips for giving up cigarettes was good but not strong enough. Robin Stoloff, a local South Jersey health reporter, said recently, "Cigarette smoking is responsible for 419,000 deaths per year in the United States. It causes cancer, heart disease, emphysema, bronchitis, poor circulation, fatigue, smoker's cough, and smelly hair, breath and clothes. It produces wrinkles and stained yellow teeth and fingers, and reduces your sense of smell and taste. And you don't get all this for free. It actually costs you money; a pack-a-day habit is more than $800 per year, two to three packs per day can run into the thousands."
Chicago: After two packs a day for 20 years, I decided to quit. I kept my resolution to myself so my friends wouldn't be asking me about it all the time. Every time I lit a cigarette, I would put it down and turn on the water, wash, cook, whatever. I soon realized I didn't crave the smoking -- only the habit of lighting up. I put the saved money (70 cents a day) in the bank. I bought a new desk for my son's school. I bought a ticket to a ceremony honoring my anti-smoking uncle when he was named Man of the Year. During a recent rainstorm, I remembered the times I used to go out in bad weather for a cigarette. Not smoking can be the greatest freedom you will ever know.
Lauderdale by the Sea, Fla.: I quit smoking years ago. I substituted thin-stick pretzels for cigarettes. It worked like a charm, and it feels simply wonderful to be free of that curse.
Chula Vista, Calif.: Let me tell you my story about smoking. I was 62 years old and had smoked two packs a day for 40 years. I tried to quit over and over, but I failed every time. Then, I had to go to the hospital for major surgery. When I was recuperating in the intensive-care unit, a doctor stood at the end of my bed and said, "This is Mrs. Blank, the EX-smoker." I have not touched a cigarette since, and it's been 18 years. Tell the surgeons in your reading audience to take heed and give their patients this post-operative suggestion, which could be their greatest gift.
Coos Bay, Ore.: Twenty years ago, my wife and I visited our son in Utah. My wife was a heavy smoker. Our son told her, "You have always said, 'My house, my rules.' Well, you are now in MY house, and the rule is no smoking, no way, no how. If you need to smoke, you can use this empty can as an ashtray and go outside on the balcony." My wife went out on the cold, snowy balcony but returned shortly in a semi-frozen state and didn't smoke the rest of the evening. Two weeks later, we visited our other son in Nevada, and my wife got the same treatment. She ended up on their front porch with an empty soup can. She was extremely angry with both of our sons, but their toughness started her on the road to quitting. Today, she knows they did her a huge favor. She has lived smoke-free for the past 18 years.