It is obvious to those who know me that I am an avid anti-smoker and work hard to help those afflicted with a tobacco addiction break their habit.
Knowing your shortcomings is an important part of being successful. One of my short comings is not knowing when to quit. When it comes to helping smokers stop smoking, I am a zealot. Today, I went to work on one of my smokers, hammering at the health hazards of smoking and techniques she could use to stop. Halfway through my spiel, I stated, “I know I can be obnoxious when it comes to you smoking.”
My patient answered, “You’re not obnoxious. You are ‘militant.’ You are fighting a battle and militant is good.” While I never saw myself as militant, I liked the idea. I am fighting a battle. The stakes are high. I can see the future and it’s not pretty.
I am currently dealing with patients who are at the end of their shortened lives. Every year, I have a new batch of smokers who run out of useful lungs. They were all told that smoking would eventually destroy the quality of their lives or even kill them. They just didn’t believe it. They all have the same thing in common: they are miserable. They also make their families miserable. Their children get to watch in horror as daddy coughs and gets short of breath doing nothing. Their daughters either cry or steel themselves against the devastating thought of losing their parent.
Yes, I’m militant. I am fighting an enemy that hides in the shadows, slowly destroying life from within. My enemy is a suicide bomber, seemingly harmless and dressed in seductive apparel. She tempts you with her nicotine. She lets you fondle her while all along she plots how to kill you. She is a sadist, designing a slow painful death for those who fall for her allure.
My job as a militant is to reveal her, that evil cigarette, for who she is. I use every trick in the book to root her out and extinguish her fire. I look forward to the day when she is finally vanquished. Unfortunately, as long as there are still governments who condone her harmful presence, there will be those who fall for her seduction. And fall they will. Eventually most smokers will fall ill, getting sicker with every puff.
Militant, zealot or just obnoxious; call me what you want. I have a job to do. Preserve and improve life is an important job. Without health, everything else is worthless.
If you know or love a smoker, join my army. Send this blog far and wide. Recruit other anti-smoking militants to our cause. The life you save may be your father’s, your mother’s, your husband’s, or your wife’s. The life you save may even be your child’s.
Stewart Segal is a family physician who blogs at Livewellthy.org.
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