No one knows why some people get asthma and others do not, but what is better known are some of the triggers that can cause asthma attacks and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at the top of that list of triggers is tobacco smoke.
For anyone who has never experienced an asthma attack, it is terrifying—particularly for children who do not necessarily understand what is happening. Far too many of our children have had to make frequent trips to the hospital to get medical assistance for severe asthma attacks, brought on by second hand smoke and in some rare cases, have died as a result of the attack. As one of the fortunate ones who survived multiple childhood asthma attacks and visits to the hospital because of being constantly exposed to the second hand smoke, I can attest to the fact that asthma and tobacco smoke are not a good mix. Today my asthma is under control, thanks to preventive measures I take. Smoking is not allowed in my home, and I do not go places where smoking is permitted.
The CDC reports that the number of people diagnosed with asthma grew by 4.3 million from 2001 to 2009. In 2010, 8.2% (18.7 million) of U.S. adults had asthma and 9.4% (7 million) of U.S. children had asthma. In 2007, there were 17 million hospital physician office visits with asthma as the primary diagnosis. And, most devastating of all, asthma was linked to 3,388 deaths in 2009.
To date, there is no research to help us understand why some people get asthma and others do not—sometimes in the same household. What we know for sure though, are the conditions and elements that trigger these attacks. We love our children and, just as we would not allow them to play with other items that can would knowingly cause them harm, we should not expose them to elements (like second hand cigar or cigarette smoke) that we know will prompt an asthma attack or harm their health.
Tobacco products are addictive. That is a fact. So, rather than hang onto to the notion that smokers can’t quit, I challenge smokers to make a New Year’s Resolution to quit smoking; seek help and commit to quit smoking! There are smoking cessation programs available throughout the state. And, locally, I teach a smoking cessation class that begins on January 8, 2013 and meets for eight weeks, from 3-4:30 p.m., every Tuesday
As an active member of the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network (WAATPN) and a person who now manages my asthma, let me suggest that there is no better resolution than to make a commitment to quit smoking in 2013. Do it for yourself, your health and your loved ones.
To get more information to quit smoking, go to http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/tobacco/TobaccoAddTreatment.htm
Herb Byers is a smoking cessation counselor and is currently enrolling individuals interested in taking the classes. The eight-week session begins on January 8, 2013, from 3-4:30 p.m., and will be held every Tuesday. For more information contact him at (414)243-7149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.