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Dr Russ Blog - Smoking Considered a Pandemic
Smoking Considered a Pandemic
Created on 8/28/2009

In recent months we've heard the word "pandemic" used in association with concerns over the H1N1 novel flu virus, and have become aware of numerous precautions being urgently put in place to stem a widespread and severe flu outbreak.

How strange, then, to see the pandemic used in association with smoking, and to learn the devastating details of smoking's impact on health around the globe. But that word was chosen deliberately by the authors of The Third Edition of the Tobacco Atlas (The World Lung Foundation and The American Cancer Society). When you review the health statistics they present related to smoking (, it becomes all too easy to understand why smoking should be considered a pandemic. For example - did you know that, on average, smoking shortens a person's lifespan by 15 years???

Stranger still to witness the relative lack of urgency among many people when it comes to smoking cessation, second-hand smoke exposure, and even third-hand exposure (remnants of tobacco smoke exhaled by people who recently smoked in another location).

Let's be frank - quitting is hard. The best solution is not to start in the first place, which is why interventions aimed at youngsters need to be emphasized. To underscore the importance of this, the authors of The Tobacco Atlas point out that a large number of people first try cigarettes before age 10 years.

If you smoke, or if a loved one smokes, be kind and recognize how hard it can be to quit. But try. And if you don't succeed this time, try again. And if necessary, again.

Studies suggest that even when people don't successfully quit smoking on a first attempt they often will on a subsequent try. Once you've quit you'll likely realize benefits almost right away, both financial and health-related. Research shows that once you quit your body starts to repair some of the damage caused by smoking, even if you've used tobacco for years.

Remember, you have a great ally in quitting smoking in your doctor - she / he will have lots of tools you can use to help you kick the habit. You can also visit The American Cancer Society web site ( for more information on how to successfully quit smoking.

Some people I've spoken with simply enjoy smoking and so don't want to quit. I understand the argument, and I don't agree with it. Yes, I'm a lifetime non-smoker so it's easy to get on my soapbox, but I'm also a doctor interested in the public welfare. Smoking not only does injury to the person smoking, but also hurts those around him.

Sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing. If you smoke, get help and quit. If someone you love smokes, help them. And work towards a world where children don't get enticed by tobacco, whether here in the US or anywhere else on our planet.

Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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