July 24, 2014
I know the title of the soap opera is “The Young and the Restless”, but I want to focus on the number of friends and family members I have lost to preventable diseases, especially diseases caused by smoking.
According to The American Lung Association in 2010, the top five causes of death in the United States were diseases of the heart, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, and unintentional injuries. And men may be more at-risk for these diseases than women. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, including emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction, and diabetes.
On my current television program and on so many of my radio show over the years, I have had experts to tell us the danger of these illnesses and how we can prevent them, but most people find it hard to face mortality.
I can name eight of my disc jockey friends who have died as a direct result of smoking. I also lost a sister and a brother because of smoking. I am not an activist or a crusader taking on the tobacco industry, but it is shameful for us to know the dangers of smoking and continue to gamble with our health.
The American Lung Association informs us that cigarette smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable disease and illness, and premature death worldwide. Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 443,000 American lives each year, including those affected indirectly, such as babies born prematurely due to prenatal maternal smoking and victims of "secondhand" exposure to tobacco’s carcinogens.
About 8.6 million people in the U.S. have at least one serious illness caused by smoking. That means that for every person who dies of a smoking-related disease, there are 20 more people who suffer from at least one serious illness associated with smoking
You must remember that African American communities have been bombarded with cigarette advertising. Since the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) in 1998, the average youth in the United States is annually exposed to 559 tobacco ads, every adult female 617 advertisements and every African American adult 892 ads.
Women have also been extensively targeted in tobacco marketing. Such marketing is dominated by themes of an association between social desirability, independence, weight control and smoking messages conveyed through advertisements featuring slim, attractive, and athletic models.
Once there were battles against these advertisements, as well as the malt liquor campaigns, but somehow after the government cracked down on the tobacco companies, after a barrage of law suits and settlements, some of us have drifted back to the same old harmful and destructive habit of smoking.
Don’t think I do not recognize that you have a choice to live your life the way that you choose, and I know how hard it is to break away from the nicotine, but I will say, most smokers will quit one way or another.
Americans for Nonsmokers Rights state on average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke in the workplace is a health justice issue; everyone deserves protection from workplace health hazards, and no one should have to choose between their livelihood and exposure to an easily preventable cause of premature death and chronic disease.
African Americans experience greater health disparities than the general population, in part due to greater levels of exposure to secondhand smoke and its negative health effects, such as heart disease, lung cancer, and premature death.
The facts show not only that the African American community is in need of protection from secondhand smoke, but also that it is supportive of smoke free air. They suggest when developing a smoke free public education campaign, it is important to engage all segments of the community in support of this public health right. What do YOU think?
What about legalizing marijuana? That is another column.
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Be Ever Wonderful!