Smoke atyour ownrisk

Smoking is an ancient ritual

dated back to 2000 B.C. by American

Indians throughout North and South


It's said the practice was brought to

Europe by the crew with Christopher

Columbus, where it became popular in

Spain and was introduced to the rest of

the world via trade.

Advertisements have promoted

cigarettes using a variety of clever

catch phrases over the years.

Marlboro: "Come to where the

flavor is."

Tipalet: "Blow in her face and she'll

follow you anywhere."

Camel: "More doctors smoke Camels

than any other cigarette."

Winston: "Tastes good like a cigarette


But what the ads don't say, at least

not explicitly, is that smoking causes

numerous health problems and is a

risk factor for cancer. The Surgeon

General's warnings alert consumers

that smoking can cause lung cancer,

heart disease and emphysema,

contains carbon monoxide and may

complicate pregnancy but the labels

don't inform buyers that smoking is

responsible for about one in every

five deaths, totaling more than 438,000

deaths per year or that smoking is the

leading preventable cause of death in

the U.S.

Promotional ads don't say that

smokers, on average, die 13-14 years

earlier than nonsmokers or that smoking

almost doubles a person's risk for


And advertisements don't tell people

how hard it is to quit the habit.

A Sequim bartender, who asked to

remain anonymous, compared cigarettes

to an addictive narcotic. "I've

tried to quit before but I think it's probably

just as hard to quit as heroin," the

man said, half-joking and half-serious.

The man has been smoking since he

was 21 years old. At 47, he vows to quit

on his 50th birthday.

A Sequim woman, who also wished

to remain anonymous, was caught

sneaking a cigarette during a five-minute

break at work. "My husband would

kill me if he knew I was smoking,"

she admitted. "We quit in December

but I've snuck about three cigarettes


The woman said she picked up the

habit as a teenager because "it was the

cool thing to do." But she encourages

children and young adults not to start

smoking. "If you plan on paying rent

or having hobbies, drop the Camel

now," she advised. "Cigarettes are not

getting any cheaper and won't anytime


The woman is using "the patch" to

quit smoking. Other quitting devices

include chewing gum, lozenges, inhalers,

nasal spray, Chantix - a prescription

medication that contains no

nicotine and is said to help reduce the

craving to smoke - and hypnosis.

Studies show that 44 percent of

Chantix users reach their quitting goal

at the end of 12 weeks. More information

is available by talking to a health

care professional.

Some people are able to quit "coldturkey"

without lozenges or prescriptions.

Jean Montoya, a Sequim business

owner, quit smoking 30 years ago after

her third child turned 1 year old and

she was in her late 20s. "I thought to

myself, I've given up every other vice

but this one," she said. "Then I'd see

older ladies with a cigarette hanging

out of their mouth and a beer in their

hand and I decided right then and there

I didn't want to be one of them. I literally

threw my cigarettes and lighter

out the car window."

Montoya never smoked a cigarette

again. "I knew if I started again or

sneaked one I would smoke for the rest

of my life," she said.

The road to recovery was bumpy for

Montoya. "I was really grumpy (for a

while after I quit)," she admitted. "God

bless my husband and children for putting

up with me."

A woman shopping in Montoya's

store admitted to being a closet smoker

for years. "I hid smokes outside under

rocks and in coffee cans so I could

smoke while I walked the dogs," she

said. "Now, I smoke openly."

While eating lunch at a downtown

restaurant, a 66-year-old woman

named Karen said she's been smoking

since she was 19 and has no intention

of quitting, nor has she ever tried

to quit. She smokes less than a pack a

day and a carton per week, averaging

about $60 a month, she said. But she

remembers a time when a carton of

cigarettes cost less than $2.

The only reason she'd ever quit,

Karen said, would be if she couldn't

afford to buy cigarettes.

Smoking isn't just expensive for

consumers. In 2005, the cigarette

industry spent nearly $13.11 billion

on advertising and promotional

expenses, according to the Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention.

Each day, about 1,300 persons

younger than 18 years of age become

regular smokers, the agency went on

to report.

Heather, passing through Sequim

from California, said she started

smoking eight years ago when she

was only 12. "My friends coaxed me

into doing it," she said. "Now I smoke

an average of 10-20 cigarettes a day

and spend at least $50 a month."

"It's an addiction, it truly is," the

young woman said. "Don't start because

of peer pressure or even out of

curiosity. It's not worth it."
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