Muriel Crawford has put together what surely must be the most comprehensive list of smoking-related health hazards ever compiled for Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit. The author has good reason to campaign against this potentially deadly habit: her father suffered from many of the health problems listed here and eventually died of heart disease. That plus common sense drives Crawford’s passion to educate us about the dangers of smoking, and her research for this book is extensive./p>
Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit is arranged by category, with associated risks explained in layman’s language. From heart and lung diseases to smoking-related damage to the brain, bones, and digestive tract, Crawford has it covered. In addition, she writes about health problems most of us have never connected to smoking, such as insomnia, impotence, and infertility. Each specific disease receives its own brief section, making it quick to read and easy to remember. Collectively, the dangers are nearly overwhelming and anyone considering taking up the habit would surely think again after reading Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit.
The foreword by actor Jack Klugman is a reminder that no one is exempt from these cigarette side effects. Klugman tells of his 1974 bout with leukoplakia, a precancerous condition that threatened his vocal chords. “I stopped smoking for three months,” Klugman writes. “But the day the doctor told me that the leukoplakia was gone, I left his office and bought a pack of cigarettes.” A few years later, Klugman lost his right vocal chord to cancer; he considers himself lucky to be alive, but warns readers that not everyone will be so lucky.
And therein lies the problem with Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit. While the multitude of health risks would be enough to convince any rational person to stop smoking immediately, human beings do not operate solely on logic. Smokers are addicted to more than nicotine (else we would switch to the more convenient patch or gum), and Crawford’s book does not address the psychological factors involved in addiction. We’ve known for decades that smoking is bad for us and for those around us; there is clearly more to this addiction than logic can counteract. Just like Klugman, many smokers give up cigarettes for a brief period after diagnosis, then resume the habit months or years later. Crawford doesn’t address the psychological motivations that support smoking, nor does she explore the habit as opposed to nicotine addiction.
Crawford has given us a thorough study of the impact that smoking has on health. Readers who hope to quit will likely find much of the information here frightening and can consider it an addition to the quitting arsenal, but because this is strictly a book about physical ailments, hardcore smokers won’t discover anything new in Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit to motivate them.