It’s no secret to any of us that smoking is bad for our health.
We’ve heard it from the government and our doctors for decades. We see the commercials on TV.
The manufacturers of tobacco products even tell us how dangerous it is by placing warnings right on the package.
Even with a decline in smoking over the years, about 34.3 million adults in this country are still regular smokers. And while smoking is declining in popularity among our youth, about 2,000 kids under age 18 smoke their first cigarette each day, and more than 300 kids a day become daily smokers.
Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S. That’s one in every five deaths, or 1,300 deaths per day. Per. Day.
There’s no doubt that smoking kills.
Geoffrey L. Turner could have told us that in person. If he was still alive.
Instead, he’s telling us from the grave.
In his obituary that appeared in Sunday’s Albany Times Union, the 66-year-old Latham resident made a poignant admission about the habit that killed him on Feb. 13.
“I was an idiot who made the same stupid decision, day-after-day, multiple times per day. I was a smoker and even though I knew it may eventually kill me, I chose to deny the truth to myself.
“The pain and suffering I caused my family was not worth the perceived “satisfaction” that really did nothing more than waste money, separate me from my family, and eventually destroyed my body,” he wrote.
He used the space in the newspaper to touch on the good life he’d led; his wife, Josie, “the best wife/nurse/friend I never deserved;” his loving kids and grandchildren; his friendly competition with his older brother Ted, and his family’s gratitude to the staff at Albany Med for their care.
Instead of sending flowers, he encouraged people to donate to the American Cancer Society or a children’s charity of their choice.
He left the strongest message for his fellow smokers.
“The moral of this story - don’t be an idiot. If you’re a smoker - quit - now - your life depends on it and those that you love depend upon your life.”
If statistics don’t sway you, if lectures from your doctor or spouse or friends don’t make you quit, maybe the last message from a dead man will do it.
Geoffrey Turner might have considered himself an idiot for smoking.
But if his last message is this life convinces even one person to quit, he’ll have died a hero.