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CDC “Tips from a Former Smoker” PSAs: Scare tactic or honest truth?

CTCA

blog CDC tips

You may have seen the recent PSAs from the Center for Disease Control on the dangers of smoking told by former smokers who are now permanently handicapped because of the habit. Watch this example.

There is no question that the spots are jarring. We decided to reach out to a patient at CTCA to get down to brass tacks: are these messages honest representations or exaggerated scare tactics?

We asked Richard King, former smoker and lung cancer patient at CTCA, the following…

How has smoking impacted your life?

I quit smoking 3 years ago. I woke up one morning about 3 a.m. and couldn’t breathe. My wife took me to the E.R. and I was diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). I never picked up a cigarette again. Since then, I have continued to have spells where my bronchial tubes will close up. During a trip to the E.R. about two months ago, a nodule was found on my left lung. In pursuit of that I was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Describe the daily struggles you now face.

It’s very scary when a person can’t catch their own breath. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an attack. Being short of breath makes me tired, so even just walking around is difficult for me. I can’t mow my lawn. I struggle with day to day chores and hobbies. I can’t work anymore. I need a wheelchair to get through the airport.

Richard says that the tools he now needs to survive are a constant reminder of his condition. I have to keep a rescue inhaler with me at all times, I have to sleep with a CPap machine, I have oxygen tanks and nebulizer machines at my home, I have to buy expensive medication and take it daily.

You’ve seen the CDC ads. What is your reaction?

I think these ads are right on the money. They show the public the real consequences of smoking. If young people see this hopefully that will scare them into quitting or not ever starting.

What advice would you give to people who are on the path that lead you here?

It’s not cool to smoke. It stinks and yellows your teeth. Don’t ever start. If you already smoke, throw the cigarettes in the trash. Chew gum, work out, walk. Smoking is a habit and nicotine is a killer. Once you break the habit by replacing it with something else, the need for nicotine WILL go away. And absolutely do not think e-cigarettes are an alternative; the tobacco industry is fooling you.

DON’T LET HABIT AND DEPENDENCY CONTROL YOUR YOUTH. MAKE THE RIGHT DECISIONS AND KEEP YOURSELF WELL AND STRONG SO YOU MAY ENJOY YOUR WHOLE LIFE IN A WAY I NO LONGER CAN.

Explore resources to quit smoking.

Learn about the Smoking Cessation Program our Phoenix-area hospital.

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