03/05/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Every Monday Matters: "Addicted to Dying?"

No Nicotine


Nicotine is as addictive as cocaine.

8.6 million Americans have at least one serious illness caused by cigarette smoking.

80% of adult smokers started before the age of 18.

Every day over 4,000 people under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette.

Every year over $75 billion dollars is spent on cigarette-related medical expenses.

70% of smokers say they want to quit.

91.2% of all successful long-term quitters quit cold turkey.

Take Action Today

1. Stop smoking -- do it cold turkey. Don't light up today. Or tomorrow. You can do it!

2. Quit with a friend so that you can hold each other accountable.

3. If necessary, use one of the many nicotine replacement therapies.

4. If you are a non-smoker, "adopt" a smoker. Support them by giving encouragement, exercising together, going out where there isn't likely to be smoking, and providing comfort and accountability.

There will be 1 billion fewer cigarettes smoked and 274 million fewer cigarettes littered if nobody lights up today. People say it is hard to stop smoking, but isn't it harder to keep doing it? To continue smoking you have to pay for cigarettes, always have a lighter or matches, get rid of the ashes, and figure out what to do with the butt. Oh...and hope it doesn't kill you. May this day be the first day of the rest of your and your friend's nicotine-free life.

You Matter

Arthur Emerson of Merced County smoked his entire life. And, when we say "smoked," we mean smoked. For 30 years Arthur smoked 2.5 packs of cigarettes a day.

"When I was a kid, there was not as much messaging about the fact that smoking was addictive and cancer-causing. All of the TV and magazine ads were about how sexy smoking was. So, I started at a young age in high school, because I was curious and it was the cool thing to do," admitted Arthur.

One of the most common things young smokers say is that they will quit when they get married or have a family. But like those same people, Arthur had a difficult time quitting and found himself married with two teenage boys...and still smoking.

"I smoked everywhere. In the car, the house, at work. I even had my wife and kids sit in the smoking section of airplanes just so I could smoke. I feel terrible saying that, but it was such a big part of my life. I couldn't imagine not doing it."

But one day that all changed. One of Arthur's sons was a part of the D.A.R.E. program at his junior high school. It was a police funded program that had junior high students visit elementary schools to share with them the negative effects of smoking, drinking, and drug use.

"I will never forget the day that Charles walked in the house from school," Arthur said. "He said: 'Look Dad, this is what your lungs look like,' and he handed me a glass case holding a petrified lung of a male smoker who had been smoking 2 packs a day for 30 years. The lung was pitch black and shriveled."

That was the bingo moment for Arthur. He "saw the light" and immediately threw away all of his cigarettes and lighters.

"I was done. Grossed out and done. Cold turkey," shared Arthur. "It wasn't easy, but I just kept remembering the image of that lung and knew I couldn't go back. And if I could do it, anyone can."

So what is it going to take for you to quit? Fortunately, for Arthur, it wasn't a personal medical condition caused by smoking, rather just a caring son who was trying to help. Hopefully you will have your bingo moment sooner than later. Or, if you are not a smoker, but know someone who is, maybe you can play the role of Charles. Just go find a petrified lung of a seemed to do the job.

Thank you Charles! Your perseverance matters. And thank you Arthur for being an inspiration.

Please visit to buy the book, get involved, book a speaking engagement/event, and share your stories about making a difference in the world. You matter.