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The Evening News in Norwich, once a week, would turn over their editor's column to a reader to give their views on something. On 9th March 1996, it was my turn....


In 1983 smoking killed my mother. Thirty cigarettes a day for thirty years finally took it's toll."In the ambulance I was prepared never to come home," she said after her first heart attack in the Spring. Against medical advice she carried on smoking. After a second heart attack just before Christmas the ambulance took her away for ever.

Eight years later my father, also a heavy smoker, developed lung cancer. In hospital he was determined. "Old Nick won't catch me," he promised. It was a promise he couldn't keep. He died just two weeks later.

With their deaths my parents joined the statistics for smoking-related fatalities, currently 100,000 per year. They started smoking when it was fashionable and information about the dangers hadn't been released. By the time it was they were addicted. The risks are now well documented. A 40-year study showed that smoking increases the chance of death from 24 illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, and strokes, and that half of all regular smokers will be killed by their habit. That's reason enough for anyone to stop as soon as possible. Why wait for a New Year? You may find the going tough and think it's impossible. It's not. My wife smoked when we first met. I explained I'd lost two people I loved to cigarettes and I didn't want to lose another. She quit, and despite a couple of lapses became nicotine-free. Now she feels fitter, and we have three healthy children, free from the chest and throat infections I suffered as a smoker's child.

Quitting is difficult, but it's worthwhile. You may become very short-tempered at first, but I'm sure your family would prefer you moody for a while than dead 20 years early. I know what I'd choose.


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