She lay there suffocating to death and there was nothing I could do. I was a chaplain visiting patients in a hospital when I stepped into the woman’s room. She was in her sixties. Family members sat around her bed with anxious grief on their faces. The patient’s eyes were filled with fear as she sucked hard for every breath. The supplemental oxygen seemed to help little. Her lungs were destroyed by years of smoking cigarettes. Doctors diagnosed her with emphysema.
When I was six years old, my neighbor friend Dennis showed up in our secret tree house in the woods holding a pack of his dad’s cigarettes. He wanted to be cool and grown-up like his father and offered me one. “Your dad smokes too!” he reminded me. It was the only time I tried to take a puff. I gagged and coughed and decided I would never try them again.
Tobacco is highly addictive, if you can get past the initial repulsion of inhaling the poisonous smoke. According to the Center for Disease Control almost 20 percent of Americans aged 18 years and older smoke cigarettes. More common among men than women, it is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and accounts for more than 440,000 deaths—that’s one of every five deaths in the U.S. every year. Interestingly, the more education you have, the less likely you are to smoke.
Tips to Kick the Habit
Like any bad habit that has a grip on you, stopping smoking takes effort. It requires focus to begin new ways of living and nothing can replace the support of caring friends and family. Here are a few quick tips to kick the habit before your life goes up in smoke:
Eat a healthful diet
Get daily exercise in the fresh air (even 10 minutes of walking will help)
Sleep at least eight hours each night
Drink plenty of water (to help flush the nicotine from your system)
Look on the bright side of life. A positive attitude will help you turn the corner.
God cares about your body and wants you to live a happy and healthful life. The Bible guides us to care for our bodies because they are the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). When you are young and start harmful addictions, you may hardly notice. But walk with me into the hospital rooms of many who can hardly move across the room without panting and you will want to be smoke-free for good!
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