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Ron’s rant: smoking sucks

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Smokers have it so tough. 

Ron’s rant: smoking sucks photo

As I sit in my office and hear some smoker in the alley yelling at her smoking buddy, I feel bad for them.  Smokers are second class citizens.  They can’t smoke in bars, restaurants, or even in front of offices in the city of Chicago.  Pretty soon smokers will only be able to light up in their homes and cars.  Poor smokers.  Not only are they getting fazed out of social situations, but there are a few other negatives to smoking.

If being relegated to the alley wasn’t enough, there’s cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and other horrible diseases.  Smoking is bad.  We all know it.  Even second hand cigarette smoke can cause cancer.

I don’t mean to pick on smokers.  I realize it’s terribly addicting and unfortunately can be passed down from one family member to another.  That’s right, if you smoke, your children are at a greater risk to become an alley smoker.  Not only are there the obvious diseases, but the accompanying cost of insurance is higher for smokers.  With a shorter life expectancy and higher rate of illness it’s harder and more expensive to get insurance, both health and life insurance.  Since smokers on average miss more work than non-smokers, and cost more to insure, they are discriminated against.  A smoker just can’t catch a break.

In the gym I’ve trained several social smokers.  Although they claim to only smoke when they drink, I can tell the difference.  Usually, it’s endurance work that hurts them the most.  Running on the treadmill, biking fast or completing a circuit of weight training exercises pushes them to the edge faster than non-smokers.  The amazing thing, after only a few weeks of not smoking, they tell me how much better they feel.

The biggest barrier I hear to quitting is, “well, if I quit smoking I’ll gain weight.”  Many people do gain weight when they quit smoking, because they start eating more.  If they trade in cancer sticks for free weights and a jump rope, weight gain will not be an issue.  I did have one client that replaced her nicotine with caffeine and sugar and gained a few pounds.  Once we switched her new cola addiction to healthy snacks, the weight came back off without her lighting up.

My dad was a rare individual that could run 4-5 miles, have a cigarette, and no one knew the difference, at first.  He had an entire ritual to de-cigarette himself.  He gargled, sanitized his arms, face and hair with baby wipes and finished with some Binaca mint spray.  He tried everything to quit, including hypnosis.  We would sit on the couch and listen to this calm voice telling us to relax.  It always made me really tired and it didn’t work for him.  The patch finally helped him kick the habit and he’s been smoke free for 25 years.

Whether it’s your first drag in the school parking lot or at a party, the addiction forms quickly, Nicotine is:

• 1000 X more potent than alcohol
• 10-100 X more potent than barbiturates
• 5-10 X more potent than cocaine or morphine

How do you quit something that’s more addicting than cocaine?  I’m glad you asked— there are several different methods, the best of which starts with a discussion with your doctor.  The important thing, make the decision to escape the alley and save your life.

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