Health issues motivate to quit smoking
CANTON Gail Gibbs has periodically quit cigarettes and started again several times over the years, smoking steadily the last 15 years.
She is concerned about the health issues, but the 51-year-old Louisville resident admits she enjoys smoking, which overpowers her fear.
“I’d quit if there was something I wouldn’t have to suffer with,” she said. “Something that would take away the urge, and the depression that follows quitting. I used to just sit and cry.”
A report released this week shows that Americans smoked fewer cigarettes last year than they have in more than 50 years.
Cigarette smoking in the United States dropped 4.2 percent in 2005, down 20 percent since 1998 and now registers at its 1951 levels.
With some communities like Summit County banning it in bars and restaurants, there is no shortage of opinions on the issue.
Barb Rice, 56, of Massillon has smoked for 34 years and has tried to stop “too many times to count.” She starts up every time due to stress and weight gain.
“Once I quit for 10 months, and I gained 35 pounds,” she said. “If I could quit without gaining weight and learn how to relax, I’d be OK.”
Edward Mitchell, 27, is homeless. Most of the cigarettes he smokes are “gifts,” as he calls them. He’s tried to quit, but day-to-day stress brings him back. Getting him to stop would require desperate measures.
“A bullet in the head,” he said. “The only thing I’ve been able to quit is buying the premium brands. When I get some money, I buy generic.”
Others, by the millions, have quit, especially since last July when the state added another $7 in taxes per carton, said Jim Griffiths, buyer for Amster-Kirtz, a local distributor.
“For example, in February 2005, we shipped 13,000 cartons of Marlboro King box, and only 9,577 this February,” he said. “At the same time, the roll-your-own tobacco kits are up 300 percent, and cigars have been going up 5 to 7 percent every year for at least the last seven years. The state tax on them and cigars is a lot lower, making them cheaper.”
SMOKERS NO MORE
Dennis Barr, 47, of Canton smoked for 25 years before quitting two years ago.
“I have two kids I want to see grow up,” he said. “I’m concerned about my health and their health, although I never smoked in the house. There’s nothing good about smoking.”
Bud Harris, 57, of Perry Township started smoking as a soldier in Vietnam because of the stress and because everyone else was smoking. He finally quit in May 2004.
“I have an aneurysm, and they life-flighted me to Cleveland,” he said. “When I came out of the anesthesia, the doctor told me smoking almost killed me. I said, ‘You don’t have to tell me twice.’ I really haven’t missed them.”
John Whitsel, 43, of Canton started smoking at 14 due to peer pressure, and to fit in. He smoked almost 26 years.
“An uncle told me anyone who smokes after 40 is an idiot,” he said. “I never had any health problems, but I didn’t want to get any. So when I hit 39 1/2, I remembered what my uncle said and I quit.”
Starting college and starting smoking went together for Mike Suttle, 49, of Jackson Township. Health concerns convinced him to stop at age 27.
“It just made sense,” he said. “I quit on Valentine’s Day ... for my heart.”
Although smoking is supposed to be up a little among young people, an unscientific sampling found only three of 30 stopped Thursday at Kent State University Stark Campus were smokers.
Rebekah Stephan, 20, of Uniontown has smoked less than a year, and a pack usually lasts her a week.
“You’re at a party, having a good time, you have a designated driver and a good buzz on, it gives you a little more kick,” she said. “It just went from there, but I also have a boyfriend who smokes. I do have concerns about the health angle, and I’ll probably quit before too long.”
Autumn Oberhauser, 25, of Jackson Township started at 16 as “a social thing, to be cool. Now, I just have to do it. I’ll quit when I’m ready, but I enjoy it too much now.”
Logan Baker, 22, of Springfield Township in Summit County also started at 16 because everyone else was doing it, and it seemed appealing.
“Someone steals a pack from their mother, and asks if you want one, and being a curious type and the deviant person I am, I just did,” he said. “It seemed appealing.
“I’m cutting back now with the idea of quitting,” he said. “More than the health concerns, it’s the money, and a lot of people find it unappealing today.
Reach Repository writer Jan H. Kennedy at (330) 580-8325 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org