the thinking man"s choice contact is made. nerves order the heart to pump faster. adrenalin surges to action. nerves constrict the blood vessels in the extremities of the body. skin temperature drops. fingers and toes grow colder. blood pressure jump. an alcoholic or a dope addict in the first stages of a "cure"? a man being catapulted into outer space? no! these effects stem from smoking just one cigarette.
the united states public health service is issuing continual warnings to smokers. if they abstain completely from smoking, their chances of acquiring lung cancer will be one in 275. their chances of dying of lung cancer will be one in 10 if they become heavy smokers─two or more packs a day. lung cancer is fatal in 95 per cent of all cases.
but in spite of glaring evidence and frequent warnings, the public is smoking more and more. the department of agriculture estimates that this year"s consumption of cigarettes will reach 180 packs per person fifteen years of age and over. how many cigarettes does this mean per person?─3600.
why is smoking such an important problem? because smoking is not a mere habit, as so many think it is. no, it is more serious than that. a habit can be broken easily enough, but an addiction cannot. smokers lapse into helplessness! daniel schubert, of the university of chicago, quizzed 226 students at a large northwestern college about their smoking habits─why they started, what satisfaction they got, and if they wanted to stop. according to schubert, they wanted to quit smoking; but they couldn"t.
if one is addicted to cigarettes, he is dependent upon them physically, as well as psychologically. what is it, if it is not addiction, that motivates a man to go out in sub-zero weather to buy a pack of cigarettes? if necessary, he will drive ten miles late at night to find an open drugstore. what is it, if it is not addiction, that makes a moocher of an otherwise charming young girl?
i was talking to a professor not long ago who had just quit smoking. he told me what most of you already know─that once the habit is started, watch out! it is next to impossible to stop smoking. i asked him how he ever managed to quit when he had been smoking over a pack a day for ten years. listen to his story.
"well, i cut down to one-half pack a day for the first week.
i was touchy most of the time. the slightest irritation made my nerves jangle and my head want to explode. the next week i smoked five cigarettes a day and had an even worse case of nerves. then the following week i chewed gum and sucked on mints, candy, and pipe stems. frankly, i wasn"t sure from one moment to the next if i could keep going. somehow i made it."