We’ve all seen the effects of someone we know diminishing before our eyes, as they slowly die from cancer. I know, first hand, about the heartache of losing someone to esophageal cancer and kidney issues. My mother was a heavy smoker and for years I watched her unsuccessfully try to quit. Her addiction to cigarettes was just too strong, so she eventually died of cancer. No one should have to watch his or her loved one suffer from the chronic pain that my mother endured before she passed away.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, right behind heart disease. Moreover, the American Cancer Society reports that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States for both men and women, according to 2013 information.
And, while my goal is not to overwhelm readers with statistics, the American Cancer Society also reports that, in the United States, tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths—the equivalent to about 443,000 early deaths each year.
Armed with this information, why is it then that people continue to smoke or expose their loved ones to second hand tobacco smoke? Simply put, cigarettes and other tobacco products are addictive. My mother had so much to live for, but she simply could not stop smoking. It’s just not that easy to quit smoking once you start. However, did you know that lung cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer?
I believe that the tobacco warnings on cigarettes are just not clear enough and more needs to be done. One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes is “when we know better, we do better!” Now that you are armed with this information, please join with the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network (WAATPN) in spreading the word that tobacco products kill, as we put the squeeze on the tobacco industry to more aggressively and adequately fund tobacco education and cessation programs. We want a healthier community and, this is one health disparity where we can quickly and positively change the outcomes. Let’s do better!