Originally Posted by RL357Mag
I smoked for 33 years because it was my "right". Now that I have COPD and use an inhaler I am paying the price for my STUPIDITY. That being said, I am against taxing the sh!t out of anything. If someone wants to kill themself that should be their own decision - unfortunately death doesn't come quickly, and it doesn't come cheap! What I object to is having to subsidize their medical treatments for lung disease because they were either too stupid or too addicted to recognize the risks. If all smokers would sign a waiver giving up their rights to taxpayer-funded healthcare treatments for smoking related ailments, I wouldn't give a rat's ass how much they smoked! There are absolutley NO benefits to inhaling smoke, and since the 1960's the dangers have been widely published. I work in the oil industry, and I can see the writing on the wall as far as continued employment opportunity, so anyone who still works for big tobacco is obviously not concerned and deserves what they get. Good luck with your crusade. BTW, second hand smoke doesn't bother me, outside, but no one will ever smoke in my house.
I smoked for 43 years and have advanced emphysema along with advanced COPD, I am on a breathing machine for 20 minutes every 4 hours. I still believe it is a persons right to choose to smoke and the government should not tax Cigarettes. As RL357Mag said I also don't like taxpayer-funded healthcare treatments for smoking related ailments, we knew the risks and we made our choices. I do not go to the Dr. unless I can pay for it out of my pocket. I have no Medicare, Medicaid, nor any assestance with my Dr. bills.
Here is a good artical on this issue.
COPD: The Silent Killer - Page 1 - MSN Health & Fitness - Quit Smoking
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly called emphysema, kills more than 120,000 Americans every year, most of them smokers. So why haven’t you heard of it?
If ever there were a disease in dire need of a good publicist, COPD is it. Rates of other deadly diseases have been steadily decreasing, thanks in large part to widespread awareness. Heart disease and stroke continue to decline, as do the death rates for the four most common types of cancer (prostate, lung, breast and colorectal). The importance of fighting these killers has been knitted into the national conscience so tightly that it’s commonplace to be aware of health markers like cholesterol and blood pressure levels. In these areas, health education has even impacted commerce and lifestyle—one can hardly sit in front of the television and enjoy a Danish without being urged to eat healthy, buy a calorie-free soda or at least consider medicine for controlling cholesterol.
But COPD? We know more about the CIA. So here’s an eye-opener: The first, second, and third causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer and stroke. COPD is No. 4.
COPD is an incurable lung condition in which air flow is compromised, making it difficult to breathe. According to estimates quoted by the American Lung Association, 11.4 million Americans had COPD in 2004; further evidence of impaired lung function in some 24 million adults suggest the 11.4 million number was short by half. More people are killed by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than by every kind of accident combined (accidents are the No. 5 cause of death) or by diabetes (No. 6), and nearly twice as many die from COPD compared to Alzheimer’s (No. 7).
Since the rates of other leading causes of death are decreasing while COPD deaths increase, COPD is expected to be the No. 3 killer by the year 2020—just 12 years from now.
Some diseases are accompanied by overt warning signs, others are not. Lucky survivors of heart disease, for instance, may first experience a tightening in the chest that provides not only a warning but a wake-up call to take better care. COPD is the silent type. The disease’s irreversible damage to the lungs can occur with no outward symptoms, and even when symptoms do exist they stand to be ignored.
“One of the reasons COPD is referred to as ‘the silent killer’ is that we don’t recognize the symptoms as being related to the lungs,” says Dr. Ronald Crystal, chief of pulmonary critical care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “Very often people will say, ‘Yeah, I have a smoker’s cough’ or, ‘Yes, I’m getting out of shape.’ What they don’t recognize is that they’re losing lung function.”
Crystal notes that denial also plays a role. Feeling breathless can be a sign of aging or gaining weight—neither of which we like to acknowledge. But the shortness of breath that comes with climbing a flight of stairs or running to catch a bus is a symptom of COPD.
The Damage Done
Early stages of COPD are also characterized by silence. The lungs are gradually devastated with no initial impact on the patient’s breathing.
Pulmonologists generally divide COPD into two sub-categories: chronic bronchitis and emphysema, both conditions that affect the deepest and most fragile reaches of the respiratory system.
Think of the lungs as an inverted tree, where the windpipe is the trunk and the airways are branches that continually fork to smaller and smaller branches. When you get down to about the sixth fork, where the airways approach the width of a human hair, the branches are called small airways or bronchioles. At the end of each bronchiole is a clump of tiny sacs called alveoli—what Crystal calls the “business end” of the lung.
“That’s where gasses are exchanged,” he explains. “That’s where oxygen comes in from the air and where carbon dioxide, the waste gas of our metabolism, comes out. So the airways are the conduit of good air and bad air, if you will.”
The sacs are supposed to fill up with air when you breathe in and deflate when you breathe out. But in a case of chronic bronchitis, which can be brought on by smoking, the walls of the small airway become inflamed and swollen shut—thus the “obstruction” in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. With emphysema, the delicate sacs are damaged so badly that they cannot inflate or deflate at all. So, both conditions shut down the respiratory system where it does its crucial work of bringing oxygen into the system and sending carbon dioxide back out. Most people with COPD have a mixture of both diseases.
If the disease progresses, the patient will have an increasingly difficult time breathing. Though an individual may only have a sense of not being able to get enough air, what’s actually happening is that he or she cannot exhale. Think about what it’s like to come up for air after being under water a little too long—you first exhale, hard, before gulping in the oxygen-rich air. A person with advanced COPD can not get that satisfying exhale.
In case you weren’t impressed by lung cancer…
Between 85 percent and 90 percent of all COPD cases are caused by cigarette smoking. You may have heard that quitting allows lungs to “turn pink” again, but the damage done by COPD is irreversible. Having COPD also increases one’s risk for acquiring a lung infection and lung cancer. However, kicking the smoking habit will slow the progression of COPD.
Depending on how much one has smoked, COPD usually develops in the late 40s or early 50s. Physicians often quantify smoking in terms of “pack years”—if you smoke one pack per day for 10 years, that’s 10 pack years. Two packs a day for 10 years is 20 pack years, and so on. Risk increases substantially at about 20 pack years, though COPD has been diagnosed in people who’ve smoked less than five pack years.
Crystal explains, in brief, how the oxidants in cigarette smoke go to work on the lungs: “Oxidants are what rust our bridges or make our meat go bad if we leave it out on the counter. For every puff of a cigarette, there’s 1014—that’s 10 x 10, fourteen times—oxidants. Some effects are very short-lived, but you put a huge burden of oxidants on your airway surfaces when you smoke cigarettes. There are all kinds of other things in cigarette smoke, but oxidants are a major cause of damage to the lung.”
The disease can also be brought on by inhaling airborne pollutants, which helps explain why COPD rates continue to rise. Studies have also shown that people were at higher risk when working in occupations where they’re exposed to chemicals, vapors or dust, as in rubber manufacturing plants or even at gas stations.
Hope, when smoke clears
If you have a history of smoking, tell your doctor you want to be tested or look for a COPD screening in your area. A simple test with a spirometer, which measures the amount and rate of air flowing in and out of your lungs, can help identify respiratory dysfunction.
Catching COPD early will always put you at an advantage. Again, there is no cure for COPD, but treatments are available that may help you feel better and reduce hospitalizations down the line.
The best bet for preventing COPD is to be among the 79 percent of American adults who do not smoke. If you’re among the remaining percentage, about 46 million, try to quit! Never surrender to the idea that COPD is a disease smokers bring on themselves, as if it’s a disease one volunteers for. Kicking the nicotine habit is fiercely difficult, but there is an increasing number of workable programs for quitting.