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Thursday, February 21, 1980'
Despite the continued associatio
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From page 1
So it was with some feeling of the inevitable that I
entered the Wesley Foundation to attend the first
meeting of the Alpha Epsilon Delta Stop Smoking
Clinic last fall. I went because it was free and because I
knew I should quit.
AED, the premedical and predental honor society,
sponsors the clinic twice a year, in the fall and spring
semesters. The clinic will not be offered this semester
because clinic leaders will be reporting on clinic
results at the National AED conference, but will be
offered again in the fall semester.
The clinic meets each Monday and Friday night for
four weeks and consists primarily of small group
discussions, films, guest speakers and reams of free
literature from the American Cancer Society and the
American Lung Association. The AED clinic has a
loosely structured, informal approach that places the
primary responsibility for quitting on the individual.
Its methods are based on positive reinforcement and
"Our purpose is to inform and educate people
about smoking how to quit' said clinic coordinator
Bob Blackwell. "We see ourselves as a catalyst. If we
can get people to recognize their ability to quit, we've
The emphasis on personal responsibility for quitting
is clear-in Blackwell's introductory speech.
"This is a low-key, no-pressure type of clinic," he
begins. "We're not going to ask you how many
cigarettes you've smoked every time you come in and
fuss at you.
"Because everybody smokes for a different reason,
we believe there's no one way to quit. So we present as
many different alternatives and methods as we can."
ne cunic participants were tour men and 17
women, most ranging in age from the late 20s to
early 40s. I was bv far the vouneest at 21. Some.
like myself, were trying to quit for the first time. Others
had quit before, and several were refugees from
previous clinics. I was also the least hard-core smoker,
having smoked for less than a year. The majority of
clinic participants had smoked for five to 10 years, and
some for more than 20 years. I also smoked less than a
pack a day, whereas most of the other participants
smoked a pack or two each day.
Our first speaker was Stan Alexander, an ex-smoker,
who gave an entertaining performance with a pack of
talking Merit cigarettes which he dated, married and
finally divorced. In a more serious vein, Alexander
explained how cigarettes had become so ingrained in
his life that they were part of his personality. Changing
the habit of smoking after so many years meant
changing his personality and lifestyle to a certain
I admitted to Alexander after the meeting that I felt
like a lightweight compared to the other smokers in
the group. I never had really tried to quit, and since I
hadn't been smoking that long, I probably could do it
on my own, I told him. Alexander looked me straight in
the eye and laid it on the line.
"Can you quit right this minute?" he asked. You
can't con an ex-smoker. 1 stayed.
One of the first things the smoker needs to do if he
wants to quit is to determine why he smokes. One
technique suggested at the clinic was to wrap around
your cigarette pack a sheet of paper containing a chart
that must be filled out for every cigarette smoked. On
the chart you should list information such as where,
when and why you smoked and what the
circumstances were. This method not only charts
smoking habits, but also makes it so much trouble to
smoke that often the desire for a cigarette is lost in
filling out the chart.
Most smoking prevention agencies cite sixmain
reasons that people smoke stimulation, handling,
relaxation, crutch, craving and habit. A study of my
own smoking habits revealed that while all factors
influenced my smoking to some extent,! primarily was
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Preserved lungs show graphically the dangers of smoking
using cigarettes as a crutch to ease tense or difficult
I smoked primarily at the office where I worked part
time and while studying. I liked smoking because it
relaxed me and gave me something to do with my
hands when I was ill at ease.
My primary dislike of cigarettes center on their
dirtiness. I hated the smell of smoke on my hands, hair
and clothes. I didn't particularly like the taste of
cigarettes, either. In addition, smoking aggravated the
respiratory problems I had already because of hay
During the first week of the clinic, I became more
aware of each cigarette I smoked and began half
heartedly to think about cutting down. But by the end
of the week, I had made no real progress.
At the next meeting, we had the opportunity to use
an Ecolyzer a machine that measures the level of
poisonous carbon monoxide (a major component of
cigarette smoke) in the bloodstream. The normal level
of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream is from three
to eight parts per million. I registered 13 parts per
million, which is a rather modest amount. One 18
year, three-pack-a-day smoker registered in the
upper-40 range, which is a very high reading. Most
others in the group registered somewhere between 20
and 30 parts per million.
All of us were surprised to find out how much toxic
carbon monoxide our systems contained. But carbon
monoxide is just one of the many dangerous gaseous
components of cigarette smoke. I was amazed and
angered to 'discover how many poison and known
cancer-causing substances were contained in the
cigarettes that I had bought so casually.
In addition to carbon monoxide, cigarettes contain
substances such as ammonia, acetone (which I
recognized as the main ingredient of fingernail polish)
and formaldehyde. At least six carcinogens, or known
cancer-causing substances, are contained in cigarette
smoke, including benzene and vinyl chloride. The
concentration of many of these substances was far
greater in cigarettes than the maximum concentration
permitted by law for workers exposed to the same
substance in the air of their work place.
This, more than anything, alarmed me about the
health risk I was taking by smoking regularly. I also
became more aware of one 20-year smoker in the
group who was continually beset with racking coughs.
I V U complications of smoking, such as lung
cancer, heart disease and emphysema.
Coronary heart disease is the number one cause of
death among cigarette smokers. Smokers have twice
the risk of death from coronary heart disease as
Roughly 90 percent of lung cancer cases are
smoking-related, and smoking has been linked as well
to cancer of the larynx, pharynx, mouth, esophagus,
pancreas and bladder. Emphysema, the slow killer, is
roughly 60 percent smoking-related.
The destructive power of smoking was illustrated
more graphically with three preserved lung cross
sections provided by the Research Triangle Lung
Association. The normal lung was red and porous, with
a spongelike appearance. The emphysema lung was
brown and spotty, with fluid, bladder-like pouches.
The lung-cancer. lung was grayish-white and moldy
looking, with a thick, solid appearance. My revulsion
at the diseased lungs was doubted when I learned that
these lungs did not even show the advanced stages of
the disease all came from victims of auto accidents.
Comparing the two diseased lungs to the normal one, I
wondered how their owners could breathe at all and
wondered how mine looked.
As the cl inic progressed, more time was devoted to
different techniques for quitting. Suggestions
included: exercising more, munching on celery or
uch of the clinic's time was devoted to
education about the endless health