Photo Credit ( MilitaryHealth )

Photo Credit (MilitaryHealth)

“We know it will kill us, Why then do people still smoke?”

The following statement appeared in a recent article in a magazine concerning laws against smoking cigarettes.

“The government, rather than telling people they cannot smoke, should be educating them about why they should not smoke.”

At first, that seems like a reasonable argument. However, a little bit of thought reveals that since the first issued warning on the sides of cigarette packages, the government, the Heart Associations, the Cancer Society's, and every doctor and health professional have been warning people about the dangers of smoking.

Further, we have restricted or completely disallowed smoking in public buildings; buses, airplanes and dozens of other places, letting people know that even second-hand smoke is a danger.

Apparently, just educating people is not the answer or if it is, we are educating them in the wrong manner. There is probably no one that believes that smoking is not injurious to a person’s health. Further, almost everyone, if asked, would say that smoking is directly related to lung cancer and heart disease.

Why then do people smoke? Or more importantly, why has the educational program not eliminated smoking?

It may be that there are two plausible reasons. The first is that most people live by the “I am an exception” school of thought. They believe that somehow they will be lucky and that they will not get cancer or heart disease. They believe that serious diseases like that happen to “other people” and not to them. This is the same reason people go and play the lottery. The odds are against them, but they think they will be lucky and beat the odds.

People need to realise that there are universal laws like “cause and effect” and “reap what you sow.” You cannot abuse your body in any way and not expect to reap the effects.

They may not occur today or tomorrow, but they will surely occur at some point. The effects may not be evident right away, but they are there. The effects might not develop into a more serious condition, but the effects are still there.

The second reason that people ignore their health is, that they have the mistaken impression that healthcare will inevitably have an answer to their problem, so they abuse their bodies. If they overindulge in eating, they take an antacid. If they drink too much alcohol, they take a panadol. If they over-exercise their muscles, they rub on an analgesic. If an organ or body part is sick, they have it cut out.

Until people are educated that “remedies” are not equivalent to health, and though they may offer temporary relief they do not add to health, they will never obtain true health.

In fact, like the problem they are treating, these “remedies” will actually detract from the highest potential level of health.

Some people approach other aspects of their health the same way.  They abuse their bodies by not supplying it with healthy nutrient dense foods, they don’t move their body regularly or they neglect taking care of the structure of their body. The effects of not meeting these vital requirements may not occur today or tomorrow (just like smoking), but they will surely occur at some point. The effects may not be evident right away, but they are there.  The effects might not develop into a more serious condition, but the effects are still there.

Taking care of your health necessitates that you realise that a behaviour that decreases your health does so immediately, not one day and not possibly. Immediately.

Whether it is smoking or not eating your vegetables, whether you realise it or not it is affecting the function of your body. Regularly engaging in health promoting behaviours improves your health, immediately. Period.

I suppose some people may simply never get that. No matter how many times we write it and/or say it.

What else can we do?


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...Dr. Ryno