DURING THE awarding ceremonies for the Healthy Lifestyle Exemplars given by the H&L (Health & Lifestyle) magazine on its 10th anniversary last week, I mentioned in my opening remarks that vices like smoking is a “form of corruption that squanders one’s health and wellness. And anyone who walks the straight path or ‘daang matuwid’ should stay away from it.”
I never mentioned his name and quite honestly I didn’t have him consciously in mind then when I said it, but in retrospect I must have been subconsciously pleading with President Noynoy to lick the habit—for his and the nation’s sake.
I’m not privy to his medical condition, but we all read in the papers that he gets a bout of respiratory tract infections every now and then. Hopefully, he’s not bombarded with potent antibiotics which could make him resistant to them should he need them when a severe bout of infection occurs. I’m sure he knows that prevention is still the best way to keep him in good health, and what constantly sticks out like a sore thumb is that his smoking is most likely his number one risk factor—second only to his being a workaholic—in triggering his respiratory tract infections.
A more potent trigger
If one has any condition that makes the airway from the nose to the lungs hypersensitive or hyperreactive—this includes allergic rhinitis and bronchial asthma which the President might have—smoking is a more potent trigger for complications, usually in the form of infections, and depressed immune system or resistance to any illness. It’s like constantly rubbing salt to a raw wound—inflicting insult after insult—and not allowing the injury to the airway to
It may improve temporarily with medicines, but over time, the lung condition progressively gets worse until the final lethal blow comes for some unfortunate victims who don’t heed the call for them to kick the habit early enough. I’m sure the whole nation shudders at this thought.
Speaking of kicking things, I recall the President’s speech during the anniversary of the Makati Business Club when he said he’s not the type of person who just kicks the can down the road, metaphorically saying that he addresses problems head-on and not just letting it linger on till the next administration.
We pray he realizes soon that his smoking is one of the cans he’s just kicking down the road, rationalizing it by referring to it as one of the few “freedoms he should be allowed to enjoy.” This is one of the deceptive effects of nicotine, which I confess I was guilty of also till I finally licked the habit for good almost 38 years ago.
Far from giving one freedom, smoking actually chains him/her to the bondage of a slowly deteriorating health and the constant threat that one could just go suddenly. Nicotine and the other harmful elements in tobacco can make the heart irritable more than a hundred times which can make it stop suddenly from a fatal arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. A higher risk is present especially if there are concurrent problems like asthma or lung infections which diminish the oxygen supply to the heart making it more prone to abnormal heartbeats.
Heed other’s advice
It’s also good for the President to heed other’s advice for him to take a break from his work every now and then. In fact, he should do it at least one day a week on weekends. But more than this, I think simply stopping smoking would be more beneficial than all the relaxing, exercising and healthy diets that can never jointly compensate for the harmful effects of smoking.
Smokers who have difficulty quitting need the emotional support, constant reminder and counseling of people close to him or her. I’m sure Ballsy, Biel, Pinky and Kris are trying hard to convince the President to quit smoking. They and P-Noy’s personal physicians should keep on doing it, stepping up their pleadings in a firm but loving manner. Based on experience, the pressure from people who matter can be most effective. And if the President can’t really quit “cold turkey,” I’m sure his personal physician can refer him to a smoking-cessation specialist.
The nation is most fortunate to be led by someone like P-Noy whose battle against all forms of corruption in the bureaucracy is unwavering and impervious. His unequivocal support for the “sin tax” bill which aims to curb smoking is, in more ways than one, also an “anticorruption” cause. I’m sure the whole nation will also be behind him as he fights the last vestige of “corruption” in his own system.