Clever use of Twitter by a Florida stop-smoking group.

QwitterQwitter lets you keep track of how many cigarettes you smoke each day; keep a journal of your thoughts an feelings (“I’d KILL for goddamn cigarette!”); view your progress and follow and support other fiends.

All kidding aside, I can see how this might actually work. If I tweet, “It’s three o’clock and I have not smoked all day” …and my friends George sees that, it might help him hang on.

I could see this working for any number of support groups. “I’ve lost 5 pounds this week and had 3 Ritz crackers for lunch.”

Learn how to be a cigarette-safe kid

President Bush is proud to present, in cooperation with the Flammable Pleasures division of RJ Reynolds, vital and wholly accurate information that can make YOU a CIGARETTE-SAFE KID!

  1. Keep Cigarettes Safe from Water! Water causes wetness, and wetness can keep your cigarettes from properly igniting and efficiently delivering scientifically calibrated doses of totally non-addictive nicotine into those sticky little air sacks way at the bottom of your lungs!
  2. Bedtime Smoking Smarts! After bedtime prayers, nothing relaxes like a cool drag from a hot Winston (brand) cigarette.
  3. Keep Cigarettes Safe from Breaking! A sturdy and stylish cigarette case is what all the cool kids have!
  4. Let the Buyer Beware! When choosing an adult to ask to buy you cigarettes at a cruelly authoritarian, liberal-managed convenience store that won’t sell tobacco to persons under 18, make certain never to speak to anyone who looks like s/he might be on the Federal welfare rolls – they will steal your cigarettes, leaving you craving (in a purely nonaddictive way) a smoke ! !
  5. Remember: Fresh = Tasty! Never forget that an important part of the exclusive appeal of cigarettes is their highly perishable nature; they stay smokably fresh for only three to four hours after their cellophane seal is broken.
  6. Keep it Clean! If your preferred brand is filterless, your fingers and teeth may become pleasantly discolored by stubborn, yet fashionable nicotine stains.
  7. Smoke Right, Smoke Safe! As you get older, the way you hold your cigarette will become increasingly important.

[Thanks, Angela]

Lung cancer surgery doesn’t stop smokers

More than a third of smokers who had surgery to remove early stage lung cancer were smoking again within a year. That’s one of the findings of a new study involving patients who were forced to quit smoking for surgery. Many were puffing away within two months of the surgery, and nearly half eventually resumed the habit. [LiveScience]

Who gave you your first cigarette?

As I drove back from lunch today, it seemed every other driver was smoking. Doing that little ash-flick thing out the open windows on a warm spring day. I found my self wondering how they all got started. Did they just decide one day to go to the convenience story and buy a pack of smokes? Or did someone give them that first cigarette? That seems more likely. A friend, maybe?

Maybe your brother or sister gave you your first cigarette? Perhaps your wife or boyfriend. I’d like to think no parent ever gave a child their first Lucky Strike, but who knows.

Here’s my point: What would it be like to watch a loved one dying of cancer and know that you introduced them to the joy of smoking? How could you live with that?

“Hey, he’s an adult. He can make his own decisions. I didn’t make him light up.”

“Come on, she wanted to try it. If she hadn’t gotten it from me, she would have gotten it somewhere else.”

So here’s my question for all my smoking friends: Did you ever give someone their first butt? Are you sure?

Thank You for Smoking: The Movie

I mentioned how much I enjoyed watching Maria Bello pull on her unders in the film, Duets. I failed to mention that she will be appearing in an upcoming film based Christopher Buckley’s Thank You for Smoking, a very dark and funny novel. No idea if the movie will live up the the novel but you can listen to an interview with Buckley here. The film stars Aaron Eckhart with supporting roles by Bello, Rob Lowe, Katie Holmes and William H. Macy.

How to Stop Smoking

ashtrayI thought I had heard about all there was to hear on the subject of smoking but I learned some new things from this week’s Living Healthy Podcast (show #7, by the way). If you smoke or have a friend or family member that smokes, this episode is worth a listen. Dr. Domke told a chilling story about an acquaintence (a doctor!) who had not smoked for 12 years…smoked one cigarette at a party or bar or something…and still smokes today, years later. The addictive quality of nicotine is staggering. Of those who stop, only 10% are still smoke-free one year later. But Henry is convinced that smokers can quit. No question, this is our best show to date.

Henry and I are having a hell of a good time doing these. And they remind me of all the interviews and radio shows I produced back in the day. But podcasting is sort of the distilled essence of that “radio” experience. It peels away everything but the fun. To all my old radio buddies who saw corporate PD’s and greedy owners suck the joy and life from “radio as we knew it,” I highly recommend podcasting.

The 2nd worst part of smoking

Quote of the day comes from XM Ben who stopped smoking three weeks ago:

“I was very glad I didn’t have to keep stepping out on the back porch to light up in the cold. That has to be the worst part of smoking…that, and the cancer.”

I read his post shortly after watching the first in a series of reports by ABC News that had some really scary stats: Twenty-four percent of American men and 19 percent of women continue to light up; three-quarters of long-term smokers will have serious health problems; smoking will kill half of them; less than five percent actually succeed in kicking the habit.

Hang in there Ben.

Smoker’s Math

While I’m on the subject. One of my co-workers is trying to quit smoking. She proudly reported that she’s down from a pack-a-day, to just five cigarettes. She seems to really want to stop and I hope she makes it. But the math kept nagging at me.

Let’s say she starts smoking when she gets up at 7:00 a.m and has her last one before retiring at, say, 11:00 p.m. So she consumes 20 smokes over a 16 hour day. On average, that works out to a cigarette every 48 minutes. And if it takes 5 minutes to smoke one, every 40 minutes she’s reaching for the Virginia Slims. That can’t be right, how would she ever get anything done? So I went back and asked.

“Well, I usually had about three cigarettes before I came to work. Maybe three or four during lunch. And the rest after work. Oh, and we usually take a couple of breaks during the day but only long enough to smoke one.” Okay, let’s re-run the numbers:

07:00 – 08:00 — 3
08:00 – 12:00 — 1
12:00 – 01:00 — 4
01:00 – 05:00 — 1
05:00 – 11:00 — 11

That only leaves 6 hours to smoke 11 cigarettes. One every half-hour until bedtime. My mom smoked two packs a day, every day. If she was awake, she had a Winston in her hand or in the nearby ash try. It was hard but satisfying work and she loved it.

Smoker’s Oasis

The death of Peter Jennings (from lung cancer) last week has lots of folks thinking about smoking. I remember when smoking was allowed on airplanes and ash trays were common desk accessories in the office. Ash tray. A tray for your ashes. Do they still manufacture ash trays? I’m sure they do.

My favorite “ash tray” is The Smoker’s Oasis. The grand daddy of ash trays, The Smoker’s Oasis has sprung up like big, stinking mushrooms outside offices and buildings across America. When we drove our smoking employees outdoors, we had to come up with someplace for them to put their butts.

We had one outside our offices for a while. It was originally located 30 or 40 yards from the back door of our building. The next time I saw it, it was right next to the building, so smokers could get a little shelter from the rain.

I went searching for it to take a picture for this post but it’s gone. When I asked one of my smoker co-workers where it was located, she would only mutter, “It’s gone. I don’t know where it is.”

My current theory is our Smoker’s Oasis has become like Dracula’s coffin. Only smokers know where to find it and you can never spot them going to or from the secret location.

Do our closeted smokers take turns emptying our Smoker’s Oasis? Is there a secret duty roster somewhere, showing who has butt chores this week? And where do they dump the butts? Do they bury them in the woods behind our office, taking care to spread leaves over the shallow grave?

Do they dream of a day when they are once again in the majority and can come in from the cold? Will we have nice, cut glass ash trays on every desk, with the company logo proudly imprinted on the side? Will we see a day when there is no longer a need for the Smoker’s Oasis? We can only hope.