To Each His Own

As an Emergency Medical Technician, I spend most of my time in rural areas. You would be surprised to know that many people from these areas suffer from the same illnesses as people from urban areas. Diseases caused by cigarette smoking are just one typical example. Unfortunately, even in rural areas, we are not short of people with lung cancer, heart diseases, and strokes caused by smoking. What’s more, the American cancer society (ACS) is constantly warning people that tobacco smoking is hazardous for their health, but I guess the message of the tobacco industry is stronger than the one of the ACS.

Some might think that having a fresh village air will counter the negative effects of smoking. Maybe they believe that tobacco is natural, so it can’t harm them, or maybe they believe they are healthy enough not to suffer from tobacco-related illnesses. Who knows, to each their own. It’s an individual decision, however, people who don’t smoke may also suffer from the negative effects of secondhand smoke, but that’s another topic. Even people who live in rural areas and can enjoy the privilege of open wide space smoke indoors. That’s why I would recommend either opening the windows frequently in order to get some fresh air or finding a suitable cigarette smoke air purifier that will protect you and others from secondhand smoke.

A funny story, once I was talking about smoking with a patient of mine who had a stroke. He was a middle-aged man, with dry skin and a pale tone. After he told me that he had been smoking his whole life, I started educating him about the negative effects of smoking. He was obviously bored when he interrupted me and said – “Look. This is the only vice that brings me joy. I don’t gamble, I don’t drink, I don’t do other stuff either, but smoking is something that has kept me company for my whole life. If that doesn’t kill me, something else will. Now do you have a cigarette or not?” I just stood there shocked by his demand and the simplicity of his answer. My thought instantly went to some of my friends in the navy. I remembered how some of my pals dealt with the uncertainties that tomorrow brings. I am here now, I said to myself. Safe and alive.