My web site is devoted to medical and treatment information about this rare cancer. My blog is devoted to sharing what has been the more difficult part of the journey for me, the emotional and spiritual road I've traveled as a rare cancer survivor.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Cigarette Tax

In Indiana legislation recently went into effect increasing the tax on cigarettes 44 cents per pack. I actually was part of a group that lobbied for the tax increase with the American Cancer Society, though we'd requested a $1 per pack increase. I actually went to my state capitol and spoke to my state legislators.

They say that cost is the biggest deterrent to kids acquiring the habit. I'm sure that's true. My teenage kids would have trouble parting with the $5 or more a pack in some states. I don't want my kids to ever smoke. They say now that 30% of all cancers are smoking related. Smoking is related to more than just lung cancer. More cancers get added to the list all of the time; pancreatic, colon, bladder, kidney... I don't want my kids to ever have a cancer diagnosis.

Maybe my own cancer was a result of my former smoking habit.

Yes, I smoked, for many years. I started smoking when I was 15. And for a long while I lived with the guilt of knowing that maybe I caused my own cancer. Maybe I was responsible for all of the grief (and expense) my diagnosis caused my husband, kids, friends and extended family. I quit almost 5 years ago, but remember, I'm a 6 year survivor. I smoked for a year after my diagnosis, and hated that I was so addicted that I couldn't quit even as I fought for my life. I'm ashamed to admit that here. I've read that only 50% of cancer patients who smoke give up the habit. Go figure.

Smoking truly is an addiction, nothing more. Nothing about smoking has the physical effect of relieving stress except for the slow deep breaths you take when you take a drag (and the relief from the withdrawal you feel when you aren't smoking). I was so addicted I even rationalized smoking...."chemo, barium and x-rays are carcinogenic, so I'm going to at least choose one of my carcinogens". How is that for twisted logic? I was terrified as I smoked, thinking I was making cancer cells grow, but I failed time after time when I tried to quit.

I did finally quit; cold turkey was the only way for me. I didn't succeed using patches or gum, though I tried them. I'm sure I tried to quit hundreds of times before I succeeded. In hindsight, smoking was much more stressful for me than not smoking. I love the freedom of not being an addict. Part of what helped me quit was the “Freedom From Smoking” online program sponsored buy the American Lung Association:

http://www.lungusa.org/site/apps/kb/home/login.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=38973

I'm grateful that my kids now abhor cigarettes and cigarette smoke. I'm glad in this day and age my teens don’t see smokers as “cool”, they see them as “losers”. I'm glad cigarettes are expensive. I'm glad there are more smoke-free places to protect my kids. My kids want all restaurants and public places to become smoke free- my eldest made me laugh when we went to a restaurant the other day- she said a smoking section in a restaurant was "like a peeing section in a pool". We had smoking rooms in the house and didn't smoke around our kids, but in hindsight, maybe we didn't protect them enough. They say if kids don't start smoking as teens, there is a good chance they will never smoke. We are almost there.

I just don't want my kids to ever have a cancer diagnosis.

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