Goodbye, Old Friend
Posted by Larry RosenComment

This article appears in the January issue of JAAPA.

That distinctive bulge under my rolled-up T-shirt sleeve was a badge of honor, membership in coolness. Old Gold Straights: “Not a cough in a carload. Made by tobacco men, not medicine men.” I was smoking a half a pack a day. I was 14 years old.

1951, my second year of high school. Gas was 19 cents a gallon, a Mexican chemist invented the first contraceptive pill, and a TV favorite, “Stop the Music,” hosted by Bert Parks, sported live dancing Old Gold cigarette packs with beautiful female legs tapping away, making my brand attractive and sexy. How cool was that?JAAPA_PAsConnect

Like my bar mitzvah, smoking was considered a rite of passage, even by my parents. I was never encouraged to smoke, nor was I lectured on the evils of the habit. Fourteen was a bit young, but there were worse things.

In February 2016, I will turn 80. I have smoked, on average, a pack of cigarettes a day for more than 50 of those years; 360,500 cigarettes, lit and inhaled in a lifetime.

Current stats: Smoking is responsible for 87% of lung cancers in the United States. The odds of a 50 pack-year guy like me developing it are 23 times higher than for the guy who never smoked. I tried to quit a dozen times and failed. Then, in 1986, something unexpected happened.

Read the rest of this article on the JAAPA website.

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