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Smoking's lasting impact

BY JON GARINN | SEPTEMBER 24, 2012

It's been nearly 30 years since my dad died from lung cancer. I never realized how memories of his unwillingness to stop smoking would still have an impact on me today.

Yet while our editorial team was discussing a lung cancer feature we're planning for next summer, Kathy LaTour's suggestion that we include a sidebar with tips on how to stop smoking drew from me an unanticipated response: I was incredulous.

How, I wondered, could smoking cessation tips have any impact on people determined to continue smoking even after receiving a lung cancer diagnosis? If they are addicted and determined to continue smoking, then no amount of advice we could provide would make any difference, I opined. It would just be a waste of space.

After much debate about the merits of including such tips, it suddenly occurred to me that my resistance to the idea was based on my caregiving experience from so long ago. I hated the fact that Dad kept smoking throughout his treatment and until his death. He was fiercely determined to beat his cancer, but he was also stubbornly opposed to breaking the habit. His brother continued to smoke through his tracheotomy tube, despite the ravages of throat cancer. My mom still smokes, and grows belligerent if anyone dares suggest she give up one of the only things that she enjoys.

Fortunately, my colleagues helped be recognized my transference. That was then; this is now. There are a lot more smoking cessation tools and assistance programs than there were 30 years ago. And it's unfair to our readers to assume they'll be as intransigent as my father or my uncle or my mother.

Without question, more can be done to help people stop smoking (the challenge is even greater among certain minority populations, as we reported on several years ago). And practical advice always trumps platitudes about willpower. Our commitment is to continue providing the very best information backed by science, even when that commitment is driven by a three-decade-old wish that didn't come true.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness month. Consider some of the facts about the disease:

Lung Cancer infographic

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- Posted by Marc carillet 9/6/13 6:19 AM

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