The Ten Commandments of Preventive Medicine – Part 7 – Tobacco

In my latest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize these ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, teach what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine. Here’s the seventh installment of this ten-part series.

These “Ten Commandments,” which I’ve long suggested to my patients and to my radio and television audiences, target exclusively the physical wheel. I suspect we could identify several more commandments related to preventing disease, but these are an excellent start.

Commandment #6 = Don’t Smoke (or use other tobacco products)

If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, resolve to quit this year. Half of all adults who once smoked cigarettes have kicked the habit. So can you.

Of all of the New Year’s resolutions that will be recorded next January 1, cessation of smoking will be, as it is year after year, one of the most common resolutions—right on up there with the standard resolutions to exercise, lose weight, and eat better. Why? Because many people now know that cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable deaths in this country.

And yet, a survey by Partnership for Prevention, a public health advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., using a nationally representative sample of 1,000 American adults, found that when asked, “What do you think are the leading causes of premature death in the United States?” only 23 percent correctly identified cigarette smoking as number one; 60 percent of us believe that the most likely cause of preventable deaths is either a motor vehicle accident, a drug overdose, or a firearm accident. The truth is that these three together make up less than 10 percent of the preventable deaths each year in our country (and less than 4 percent of all deaths).

Commenting on the study, Partnership for Prevention’s president Ashley Coffield said, “Americans are confused about what’s really killing them.” She went on to note that highly publicized issues like violence and AIDS tend to shape the public’s consciousness about health hazards.

Tobacco use is costing Americans $50 billion a year in medical expenditures and is responsible for almost 500,000 deaths in the United States each year.

More than half of all lifelong smokers die from a smoking-related disease. Most of the others—those who die from other causes—suffer disability as a result of their addiction to tobacco. According to the American Council on Science and Health, “While [many Americans] associate cigarettes primarily with lung cancer, emphysema, and other lung diseases, smoking is also a major cause of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke), impotence [erectile dysfunction], and cancers of the mouth, tongue, and esophagus. Cigarette smoking also contributes to cervical, colorectal and kidney tumors, blindness, and hearing loss.”

So don’t let another year go up in smoke. Start your journey to being highly healthy by becoming and staying smoke-free.

No More Butts

Smoking is dangerous. Smoking is not “cool.” It’s not “glamorous.” If you smoke, jot down your reasons for smoking. Does it make you feel more mature or elegant? Does it make you feel less alone in some way? Do you enjoy it? Does tobacco use make you feel more upbeat and energetic? Consider that all these reasons involve immediate gratification. But once it’s over, the only way to get that feeling again is to have another cigarette.

All the reasons not to smoke entail delayed gratification, and when you’re addicted to nicotine, that’s a very tall order. But you can make the healthy choice.

  • If you use tobacco, resolve today to stop. Select a “stop day.”
  • Try to find a partner who will stop with you. Let your friends, family, and colleagues know the day so that they can encourage you and hold you accountable.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about nicotine replacement products or other prescription drugs that could make the withdrawal easier.
  • And then stop! You can do it. Many already have.

For cutting-edge information on how to stop tobacco abuse, I recommend the American Cancer Society.

You may not find a lot of surprises here—but the real questions are these:

  • Which of these rules do you need to begin to follow?
  • When do you plan to start?
  • What strategies will ensure your success?

By beginning with a single step and then continuing to improve on a day-to-day basis, you’ll be on your way to becoming a highly healthy person.

Here are all 10 of the Preventive Medicine Commandments:

And, here are all 10 of the essentials that can be found in my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People:

  1. Set a Wise Balance in Your Life – The Essential of Balance
  2. Be Proactive in Preventing Disease – The Essential of Self-Care
  3. Practice Acceptance and Letting Go – The Essential of Forgiveness
  4. Lighten Your Load – The Essential of Reducing SADness (Stress, Anxiety, and Depression)
  5. Avoid Loneliness Like the Plague – The Essential of Healthy Relationships
  6. Cultivate a True Spirituality – The Essential of Spiritual Well-Being
  7. See Yourself as Your Creator Sees You – The Essential of a Positive Self-Image
  8. Nurture Your Hopes and Dreams – The Essential of Discovering Your Destiny
  9. Be Your Own Health Care Quarterback – The Essential of Personal Responsibility and Empowerment
  10. Team Up with Winning Health Care Providers – The Essential of Teamwork

You can learn more about these in my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People. You can order an autographed copy here.

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