**This piece was submitted as part of our Community Contributor pilot project in collaboration with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.
By Angie Hudnall / OC Monitor Community Contributor
By the look on her face, I knew what she was thinking. It was as if I had told her a terrible villain had finally got the death chair, no longer causing havoc. But, no, I wasn’t talking about a criminal without remorse. I was telling her about my friend, my childhood friend, who had passed away with lung cancer.
“Did he smoke?” she asked with a smirk.
“Yeah, uh, yes, he did,” I replied.
And there it was. That look. Disgust. As if he had it coming.
Let me tell you, no one deserves such a terrible fate.
In nutrition, we are taught to make our patients aware of the importance of eating their vegetables to decrease their risk of colon cancer. Yet, no one shames the colon cancer patient for not eating enough broccoli. Still, a diet high in processed or fried foods and low in vegetables clearly plays a great factor.
As we become less tolerant of smoking in public places, we have to be careful not to become less concerned about the smoker. To quit smoking is not an easy feat and smoking should be handled in that manner.
You know the views of smoking have changed in my lifetime. I recall as a child the nurse at the doctor’s office had a cigarette in her mouth while she checked my height and weight.
When I started working in the medical field, there were ashtrays behind the nurse’s station, so the nurse could smoke while she did her charting.
Smokers were taught the filter protected them. That was long before the idea of second-hand smoke was an issue, or now the third hand smoke dangers have been discovered.
Commercials, magazine ads and billboards displayed how cool it was to smoke, that it was provocative and sexy to smoke and somehow always involved in having a good time.
They fell for the lies, became addicted and are paying the price with their health. It is time for a change.
So, let’s get the facts.
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), “Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death.” And, “the most important thing you can do to lower your lung cancer risk is to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.”
There you have it.
We knew it, but instead of blaming the smokers, let’s help them.
Did you know any smoker in the state of Kentucky can receive free help to quit? It’s a program called “Quit Ky Now,” where smokers can receive nicotine replacement therapy and coaching and it is all free. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or go to QuitNowKentucky.org. The National government website also has great information at www.smokefree.gov. The site has a free chat line, as well.
Based on my experience working at Perdue, using nicotine replacement therapy with coaching is a winning situation for our smokers to quit. Finally, they have the tools to quit for good.
Here at Perdue, we have a Smoking Cessation Program where our associates are seen without charge. On this visit, the provider and associate discuss their plan on smoking cessation for success. The provider is then able to prescribe smoking cessation medications, again, free from cost, to our associates. We also offer the Freedom from Smoking Program, again, free from charge, to our associates for life coaching. Giving every opportunity for success.
So please, now that you know how to help your fellow man, will you?
Share with them the free links to quit smoking. Encourage them, they can do this. Be there for your friends and family. It can take several times of trying to eventually quit. Call them up. How are they doing? Plan to meet in a non-smoking place.
Just be there for them. Stop pushing them away.
Angie Hudnall lives in Cromwell, Ky., and is a health improvement nurse for Perdue Farms. She has been a registered nurse for 18 years in long-term care, physical rehab, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and home health.