Category Archives: Smoking

Five Health Factors Could Prevent Millions of Deaths

It was a surprise to me to learn from the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) that tackling just five health factors could prevent millions of premature deaths and increase life expectancy by almost 4 years!

Some of these factors (e.g., overeating) are totally within our personal, daily control.  While not having enough nutritious food is a big health risk for those in poorer countries, the BIGGER health risk in richer nations is being overweight or obese.  Obesity and overweight cause more deaths worldwide than being underweight!

The Geneva-based UN health agency listed the world’s top mortality risks as:

1. High blood pressure (which accounts for 13% of global deaths)
2. Smoking (9% of global deaths)
3. High blood glucose (6% of global deaths)
4. Physical inactivity (6%)
5. Being overweight or obese (5%)

The WHO added that if the risks in its report had not existed, life expectancy would, on average, have been almost a decade longer in 2004 for the entire global population.

That means that the quality and quantity of our lives are in our hands – in our control –  and are, largely, a matter of choice.  Keep that in mind when you eat foods high in salt or sugar, or eat too much and don’t get rest, or don’t get daily exercise, or smoke that cigarette…

When you do things that hurt you and you don’t take time to smell the roses, the roses will be planted over your premature remains.

Resisting Irresistible Impulses

I always look for patterns in callers’ questions, because I’m interested in what that pattern means in terms of what folks have come to believe…and why.  A persistent thought seems to be that impulse is irresistible.  That means, if you feel like a burger or a cigarette or a roll in the hay with someone you know you shouldn’t be with, then you have some kind of addiction, which means a disease, which means out of your control.

That’s a darn good rationalization…but it ain’t true.  The only irresistible impulse is one which hasn’t been resisted, and that is most definitely (but not simply) a choice.

I say “not simply,” because resisting impulses is difficult and sometimes painful.  Generally, such inappropriate behaviors have the purpose of 1) immediate gratification of feelings, and 2) hiding you from other emotionally distressing thoughts and feelings.  That means that, if you resist the impulse to drink, eat, or have a sexual fling in the office stationery closet, you will be left with the anxiety or sadness that resides within.

It is clear, therefore, that the emphasis should be on dealing with the not-so-well submerged anxieties and sadness.  For example, a man called recently to say that he is mean to his wife, criticizing anything he sees around the house.  I immediately suggested that he saw the cluttered kitchen counter as a sign his wife didn’t love him.  Now, you’d think that was a ridiculous leap, but it was “spot on.”  He (after some nagging from me) offered that his mother had not been, well, “motherly” and loving.  To this day, he has his wife do things to prove/make up for the lack of affection and attention he missed as a child.  Did he know he was doing this and why?  Yes for the “doing;” no for the “why.”

I suggested he go home with a flower in hand and tell his wife that he needed her to hold him.  I told him that’s what “his woman” was for.  You can always hire a maid, but you can’t hire someone to really love and care about you.  He was treating his wife like his mom, when he really needed her to be a wife with loving kindness.

You get love by being open to it, and by being loving in return.  You do not get love by eating that cake, smoking that joint, drinking that beer or overpowering those who care about you. 

Resist those impulses.  Yes, it’s painful and difficult, both physically and emotionally, but the ultimate reward is the very thing you’ve been trying to get (just all in the wrong way), and that thing is LOVE.

How the Latest Successful Stop-Smoking Campaign Can Be Applied to Other Bad Habits

Every time I go out to buy anything from shoe polish to hair spray to a new Harley-Davidson jacket, I get taxed.  Every time this happens, I ask, “Hey, what’s the story here?”  When I earn it, the federal government taxes it, the state government taxes it, and then when that’s all done, and I’m down to what I can actually spend, they tax me on everything I use my “already taxed” income for. Does that seem right, fair or fun to anyone?  I think not.

That was until last week.  The per-pack federal tax increase on cigarettes from 39 cents to $1.01 has made for a smokin’ “stop smoking hot line” and treatment center boom!  The Denver-based National Jewish Health line received triple the usual number of calls last Monday for six states in which it operates:  Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, and Ohio. 

Quit smoking phone lines around the country are feeling the surge, and Michigan’s quit line itself had to quit because it ran out of money in mid-March after logging more than 65,000 callers in 5 days!  Besides counseling and tips, Michigan’s hot line offered free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges.

Arkansas had to quit general advertising for its quit line to keep up with the surge.

Not all “quitters” will be successful.  It’s a tough physiological and psychological addiction to break.  One source guesses that about 1 million adults will quit as a result of the tax increase. 

So, after hearing about this, I got to thinking…if money outweighs morality in issues of behavior, the government is onto something.  Instead of super-taxing yachts and Harry Winston-level jewelry, why not tax divorces, so that people will make more of an effort to make their vows mean something more than their egos or impulses? Why not tax people who use day care, nannies and/or baby-sitters, so their children will come to know them better and be more loved, nurtured, and end up feeling safe and confident about love and family?  Why not tax women who abort instead of finding a wonderful family to give life and love to their unwanted children?  Why not tax men who walk away after knocking up some woman they have no intention of adoring, protecting or providing for by marriage?

I could go on, but you get my meaning.  On my radio program, I try to reach and influence people with a bit of good sense, rational thought, and (when necessary) appropriate guilt.  I give them direction, motivation, support, and a good motherly nag.

Callers don’t pay for their time on the phone.  Sometimes, I joke with them that if they don’t start doing the right thing, I am going to reverse the charges – and impose a kind of “talk show tax.”  That’s starting to sound more and more like a good idea.  If people are willing to get rid of a nasty, dangerous, addictive habit like smoking because of money, maybe costing them money would prod even more people into “doing the right thing.”