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My brother began smoking when he was about fourteen, changing from cigarettes to snuff when he was in his late forties. He loved to play the guitar, but it came to the point where after playing one or two songs, he would become too short of breath to continue. Chest pain sent him to the emergency room several times. One morning, in the early morning hours, I was awakened and informed that he was in the hospital having trouble. When I arrived it was too late. I could only hold him in my arms and cry, “I love you, Teddy, I love you.” He was only fifty-three years old.

God has marvelously created us in His image and gifted us with the ability to heal when damaged by disease, trauma, or numerous other assaults. However, continuous assault of any kind takes its toll as the natural ability to heal is over-taxed. Nicotine is known for this kind of assault. It weakens the immune system resulting in lingering problems, suffering, and even death.

I have stood at the bedside of many an emphysema patient, as they struggled for each breath; the results of continuous bombardment of tobacco toxins to the lungs. I would find myself becoming dizzy due to hyperventilation, as I subconsciously tried to help them with each breathe. Their lung alveoli were not functioning properly. Alveoli provide fresh oxygen to the body and eliminate the carbon dioxide with each breath. With damaged alveoli this cannot take place, and patients starve for oxygen just as they would starve for food in a famine. It is unimaginable what they endure.

Artery Disease

Tobacco also contributes to coronary artery disease which is the leading cause of death in the United States.The coronary arteries are the vessels that nourish the heart muscle not only with food but with oxygen. When an artery becomes blocked, blood cannot reach the area this artery supplies. As a result, that portion of the heart muscle is destroyed. The larger the area destroyed; the larger the limitations on the patient.

Due to the harmful effects of tobacco use, in the form of cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and snuff, thousands upon thousands die each year. This includes deaths due to cancer of the lungs, mouth, pharynx (throat), and larynx (voice box), and these are just the tip of the iceberg where cancer is involved.

You have heard it said, “No man is an island.” How true where tobacco is concerned. Everyone in the home is exposed to the toxins. Due to mothers’ smoking, newborns often begin life outside the womb with decreased weight, weakness, irritability, and suffering withdrawal.

In addition, every smoker in today’s economy is faced with an expensive habit. Money that could be used to meet the needs of the family are used to wreak havoc on self and others.

How much better to leave nicotine alone - and enjoy the benefits of healthier lungs, heart and families.

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By Mary Etta Smith, R.N. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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