Today is clip-and-save day in our week-long anti-smoking campaign. First, train your scissors on a depths-of-addiction story from Philip Goldberg of Silver Spring.
Goldberg is a 33-year-old accountant for the Labor Department who smoked as many as three packs a day from the time he was 11 until last year.
He started smoking because it was "cool." He chose Marlboro in the flip-top box for the same reason. Then he switched to unfiltered Camels "because it was cool and tough to spit out little pieces of tobacco."
He quit because smoking wasn't cool any more. "At 32," says Phil Goldberg, "I was not young and healthy any more."
Evidence? "I take the bus and subway to work and if I had to run a little to catch either one, I was a mess. My chest would heave, I would wheeze like an old man and I would be in medium pain," Goldberg wrote in an essay he sent to the Montgomery County chapter of the American Cancer Society last February.
Last summer, three months after quitting, Goldberg ran for a bus. "I breathed deeply and waited for the pain and the heaving of the chest. There was none, and it didn't. I would bet that the people next to and around me wondered why I was beaming from ear to ear."
What's the intangible reward of quitting? This:
"My wife is proud of me," writes Goldberg. "My mother, my daughter, my in-laws, my friends and my co-workers are all proud of me. But no one is prouder of me than me."
She is a 7th grader at Little Flower School in Bethesda named Kellie Witte. Her poem won the grand prize in last fall's Montgomery County ACS contest for school-age poets, held in conjunction with the Great American Smokeout.
If you're a parent, and a smoker, Kellie's poem has you in mind. Its title is: "My Daddy Just Died."
My daddy just died You want to know why? 'Cause he used to smoke And smoking's no joke He'd inhale the smoke And then start to choke He'd cough and sneeze Then gag and wheeze I'd beg him to stop But he'd start to swear "It's my own life, and I don't care." O Daddy, dear Daddy Please listen to me I love you so much And I want you to see The horrible things Happening to you and to me. Mom woke me up in the middle of the night To say he had died And we'd be all right Then I looked in her eye And she started to cry I couldn't cry I didn't know why And to this very day I've one thing to say: Please don't smoke 'Cause smoking's no joke. And that's how my Daddy died.
The following organizations offer classes and information if you're interested in quitting smoking:
American Cancer Society, D.C. Division: 483-2600.
ACS, Montgomery County unit: 593-3055.
ACS, Prince George's unit: 864-7361.
ACS, Virginia Division: 938-5550.
American Lung Association of Mid Maryland: 881-6852.
American Lung Association of Northern Virginia: 591-4131.
D.C. Lung Association: 783-LUNG.
AIM Institute: 565-9179.
Hypnosis Information Center: 431-4099 or 657-9399.
Weigh to Go Inc.: 589-3444.
Brooke Grove Health Center: 774-3575.
Harmony Hypnosis: 942-7900.
Stop Smoking Clinic of Alexandria: 548-3814.
Stop Smoking Clinic of Arlington: 920-4074.
Wesselton Institute for Hypnotherapy: 966-2038.
WCI Hypnosis Center, 423-7728.
I hope we have inspired you this week, smokers. Give it up. It is the biggest simple favor you can do your body. It will repay you forever.