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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

Calling All Dads to Quit Smoking

Published June 19, 2011 10:57 PM by Sharlene George

One of my favorite stories my father told me when I was a little girl wasn't about princesses or ponies. It was a true story about the night he quit smoking. 

One evening when I was still brand-new, my dad bent over my crib to check if I was snug and content. As he marveled over my pink cheeks and wondered which side of the family my strawberry-blonde hair came from, a circle of smoke from his cigarette wafted around my head. I wrinkled my tiny nose, whimpered, and coughed. At the moment my peaceful slumber was broken, so was my dad's 10-year smoking habit.

Every time he recalled this story, I felt loved and cherished. 

On Father's day, the American Lung Association encourages America's fathers to quit smoking. "Quitting smoking is the single most important step
smokers can take to improve their health," said Mary Ella Douglas, smoking cessation expert at the American Lung Association. "Fathers who quit smoking aren't just improving their own health and quality of life, but also that of their children and other family members."

Secondhand smoke is harmful for everyone, but especially for children because their lungs are still developing. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, children's exposure to secondhand smoke is responsible for:

  1. increases in the number of asthma attacks and severity of symptoms in 200,000 to 1 million children with asthma;
  2. between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections (for children under 18 months of age); and,
  3. respiratory tract infections resulting in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations each year.

If you're a dad who is a smoker, resources are available to help you quit. The American Lung Assocation recently introduced  Freedom From Smoking Online, a self-paced online "group clinic" available 24 hours a day that offers a variety of evidence-based cessation techniques. Visit http://www.ffsonline.org/ to get started. And until you can quit, choose to smoke outside and pledge to keep your home and car smoke-free.

Quitting smoking is one of the best Father's day gifts you could give to yourself and your family. And they will remember you for it for a lifetime.

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