The “Smoking” Gun


The Airbus A380-800, is the biggest airplane in the sky.  It can carry 555 people, maybe more depending on how the seats are configured.  What would you think — how would you react if two of these monstrous planes crashed every day for evermore?  I imagine the public outrage would be monumental.  “But wait,” as the commercial says, “There’s more.”  What if these disasters were totally preventable?  What if the planes were crashing because of a faulty switch that everyone knew about but ignored — and the planes just kept on crashing killing 438,000 Americans a year — year after year.  Would there be outrage?  Would congress act?  Would there be demonstrations in the streets?  Count on it! 

Far-fetched as it may seem the equivalent of two fully loaded Airbus A390-800’s are crashing every day. 438,000, that’s the number of Americans who die as a result of cigarette smoke each year.  And — these deaths are almost totally preventable, like fixing the switches on the airplanes.  This disgraceful situation is a national tragedy, a crisis that cannot be allowed to continue. 

I’m writing this because there is a clear and present danger to every one of us, even the unborn and those not yet conceived.  There is also a direct relationship between smoking and organ transplantation.  Simply put, if fewer people smoked, the need for organs and tissue would be greatly diminished and there would probably be a corresponding increase in the availability of tissue and organs.  Wow! 

Cigarettes are like bullets only far more deadly.  Bullets generally harm or kill only the people they strike.  Cigarettes not only affect anyone who inhales the smoke, they kill you slowly and painfully. I started smoking in 1954 at the age of 15.  There were no warnings then and almost everyone smoked.  Cigarette advertising even alluded to the beneficial health effects of smoking, “XXX brand cigarettes relieve scratchy throat…etc. “ 

I’ve seen the effects of smoking up close and personal.  My father died of emphysema and I lost a wife to lung cancer.  Both were smokers.  Now I am suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).  COPD is progressive and cannot be cured.  Four months ago I had a heart transplant, probably necessitated in part because of 37 years of smoking three or more packs a day.  My heart is working exceptionally well but my lungs are in a weakened condition.  Even though I quite smoking 18 years ago the effects may slowly be killing me.  But — had I not quit I would probably have died long ago.

Smoking affects every part of you.  According to “The Scoop on Smoking” (http://thescooponsmoking.org/), smoking has a negative effect on the following: Respiratory system (lungs), Skeletal system (bones), Muscular system (muscles, joints), Circulatory system (heart, arteries), Urinary system (kidneys, bladder), Digestive system (stomach, intestines) Nervous system (brain, nerves), Endocrine system (thyroid, hormones), Female reproductive system (uterus, ovaries), Male reproductive system (penis, testes), Immune system (t-cells, anti-bodies), Skin, The senses (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, throat) and mental health. 

While the number of deaths caused by cigarette smoke is appalling, the cost in dollars is also extremely disturbing.  Smoking costs taxpayers nearly $200 billion a year in health-care alone.  Can you imagine the good that would come from properly spending that $200 billion on medical research and education? 

I have but three messages.  1) I know it is hard to quit, it took a dozen tries for me to do so but you can do it!.  You owe it to yourself, your family and all the people affected by your second hand smoke.  2) Don’t start, it’s not cool and it likely will kill  you and maybe some of your family and friends.  3) Spread the word.  Out of love, encourage and help friends and loved ones to quit so none of them are in my position and feel compelled to write a blog on how smoking may be killing them.

Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s nearly 2,500 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Please view our video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart” on http://www.organti.org This video was produced to promote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for its use.

If you want to spread the word personally about organ donation, we have another PowerPoint slide show for your use free and without permission. Just go to http://www.organti.org and click on “Life Pass It On” on the left side of the screen and then just follow the directions. This is NOT a stand-alone show; it needs a presenter but is professionally produced and factually sound. If you decide to use the show I will send you a free copy of my e-book, “How to Get a Standing “O” that will help you with presentation skills. Just write to bob@baronson.org and usually you will get a copy the same day.

Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues. Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.

About Bob Aronson

About Bob Aronson On August 21, 2007 I received a new heart at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. All these years later I am very active, happy and loving life. God bless my donor and his family. His generosity toward a complete stranger will never be forgotten. I am retired and live with my wife Robin and two dogs Reilly the main dog and Ziggy the backup. We are a very happy family. My gratitude to my wonderful caregiver wife, my donor, his family and the Mayo Clinic is beyond my ability to express. Suffice it to say I will do whatever is in my power to promote organ and tissue donation and to help and support everyone affected by the issue. As a result of receiving the “Gift of Life” I have made a major commitment to organ/tissue/blood donation, transplantation and related issues. I am the founder of Facebook's over 4,000 member support group, Organ Transplant Initiative (OTI) and the blog site, “Bob’s Newheart” www.bobsnweheart.wordpress.com. I have authored the great majority of the nearly 250 blogs listed there. The remainder were written by excellent guest bloggers. The posts span a wide variety of topics mostly involving organ/tissue donation/transplantation and related issues, but also covering important current medical news and information. Wordpress data indicate the blogs have readers in 162 countries. Bob's Newheart is quickly becoming the news and information source of choice for those with an interest in organ/tissue donation/transplantation along with current developments in medical news and health care. Born In Chisholm, Minnesota I now reside in Jacksonville, Florida. I have three children and one step son, 8 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. My three grown children are Roger Aronson a well-known and respected Minneapolis, Minnesota Attorney, Dr. Colleen Hegranes Senior Vice President St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota and Harryet (Hank) Freeman who is probably the best history teacher in America, at least that's what her students at Woodbury, Minnesota High school tell me. Stepson Tim Grant and wife Jennifer live a couple of blocks from us in Jacksonville. Jen is a talented cook, baker, and mother. Tim is an in-demand electrician in Jacksonville who can really make almost anything work. Stella and Lily Grant are two very bright and talented granddaughters. For 25 plus years I owned the Aronson Communications Group an international consultancy specializing in health care communication. The Mayo Clinic was my first consulting client, a relationship that lasted until my retirement. I also worked with 3M health care, UNOS, LIfeSource, Dartmouth University Medical Center and CH2M HILL, one of the nation's largest environmental engineering firms. Prior to being a consultant I served for four years as the first Anchor for Morning Edition on the Minnesota Public Radio Network; was the Communications director for Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich and before that held positions as a broadcast journalist at several Midwest facilities. I also served as the Director of broadcast communications at Moorhead State University in Moorhead, Minnesota. While I am retired Robin is not and I assist her efforts as founder and owner of Jingler’s Jewelry. She designs and makes colorful, "Fun" anodized aluminum jewelry and is also an accomplished printmaker. She sells her creations at art shows, festivals and gift shops in states east of the Mississippi but mostly in the south. Her website is www.jinglersjewelry.com. When I have time, my hobbies include reading, music and woodworking. One of my most notable projects was completing a wood scale model of the mom and pop grocery store my parents ran for 50 years in Chisholm, Minnesota. The model now resides in Chisholm in my sister's home. Our parents were wonderful people who instilled in us a very strong work ethic and a sense of fairness and equality. I also built a dollhouse for granddaughter Lily Grant and just completed designing and building a CD box that looks like an accordion. A friend commissioned me to make it in memory of his father who was an accomplished accordion musician. I have a brother and sister of whom I am very proud . They are twins. Terry is a Minnesota District Court Judge and Mary a retired but still the best 3rd grade teacher in America. I am proud of them for what they have done but more importantly for who they are. My wife Robin is a caregiver, musician, artist, entrepreneur and the best friend I have. While we do a lot of things together we especially like making music. Often in the evening you can hear the strains of folk, Blue Grass, country and other music coming from our family room. Robin plays several instruments including string bass, accordion, guitar, ukulele, mandolin and...well the list goes on. I play harmonica and have one in almost every key. She's really good...I'm not. Quantity does not ensure quality. One more thing. I am also a recovering Alcoholic and a former smoker. I emerged from a 28 day in-patient alcoholism treatment program in August of 1982 and have managed to stay sober with the help of a lot of people both in and out of Alcoholics Anonymous. I quit smoking in January of 1991 after a 37 year habit of up to four packs of cigarettes a day. It wasn’t easy but I’m living proof that it can be done. I am available to anyone suffering from or affected by any addiction at any time through my email address bob@baronson.org or via phone 904-434-6512.

Posted on December 19, 2007, in Cigarette smoke kills 555 people a day. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Dear Bob,
    Thank you for re-posting this. My husband is just beginning the journey for a new heart. He is 65. He was a smoker for many years and finally quit 5 years ago when diagnosed with CHF. He has a family history of heart disease on both sides of his family. He had his first heart attack at 37 yet still continued to smoke. I too smoked occassionally and on and off over the years.

    We have a young daughter of 26 that smokes and it is killing me. I talk and I talk. I send her information. I bought her nicotine patches, etc. All to no avail. She said she has to be ready and she’s not. I know what it’s like. I too tried many times. There was a period of 15 years that I didn’t smoke, at all, and then I stupidly took one cigarette and started all over again. I quit this time with the help of gum, the patch, and medication. It’s been three years.

    Question is, how do I help her get get ready. She sees what is happening to her father now. If that doesn’t work, what will?

    Like

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