I Can Save My Own Health

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. David Hornyak
  • 36th Operations Support Squadron
Smoking...with all the advertisements and doctors' recommendations, it appears obvious how this single act can change your life. The Surgeon General warns it causes cancer, heart disease, and emphysema, yet despite these warnings, I continue to see more and more young people smoke.

I wonder what causes someone to pick up this unhealthy habit. Is it the "buzz" some get from the nicotine high? Is it peer pressure because it makes them look "cool"? Or do people just enjoy the smell of smoke they carry with them throughout the office or their home after they finish their "outdoor" smoke breaks? Regardless of what causes someone to smoke, it still remains a conscious choice.

Growing up, my parents smoked. Since I grew up in a smoking household, I thought it was a step towards becoming an adult, so I tried it. It did not take long before I realized it was not for me. The coughing and sore throat the next day were not what I wanted, so I made a choice...to stop.

This was further brought to light as I saw my grandfather, a very strong and influential man, deteriorate from throat cancer and finally pass away. In just under two years, he went from being able to play golf, swim and horseplay with me to being bedridden and weakened from chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Treatments I drove him to.

As an Army Security Officer who at one time managed President Eisenhower's European security details as well as fought in both the Korean War and WWII earning two purple hearts, I never expected he would be taken down by cancer...caused by smoking. Although he made the choice to smoke, he wasn't as informed of its risks as people are today. Information about smoking's negative effects wasn't publicized until much later.

In today's society, it's common knowledge that cigarette smoke causes cancer--a serious illness that often leads to death. Each and every Airman is important to the mission, to their unit and to their family. Every time someone picks up a cigarette, they make a choice not to save their own life. Make the right choice. Do it for you, for your family, for the mission and the country. We all need you alive and well to win the nation's wars.