Addiction experts say smoking is a habit more formidable than cocaine or heroin. Of the 46 million American adults who indulge, close to three-quarters of them say they want to quit, and nearly half of those hooked make at least one annual attempt to curb the habit. Yet even when their addiction confines them to tiny, dark rooms or takes them outside in sub-zero temperatures, dedicated smokers can’t seem to restrain their impulse to light up.
Cigarette smoking, once a symbol of glamour, sophistication and power, is now recognized as a harbinger of disease and death.
According to researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, secondhand smoke may be extremely damaging to children, even in minute amounts. Already known to cause respiratory and behavior problems in kids, smoking has now been linked to lowering a child’s intelligence — affecting reading, math and reasoning skills. In fact, one parent smoking as little as one pack a day may reduce a child’s IQ by as many as two points. Tobacco exposure was determined by measuring levels of cotinine, a marker of tobacco exposure, in the blood of more than 4,000 children ages 6 to 16.
Breathing in aromas rich in antioxidants — the agents in fruits and vegetables, as well as vitamins C and E — may be an option for good health, according to Kwang-Guen Lee, a researcher at the University of California at Davis. Lee distilled and extracted 30 chemicals to produce aromas from 10 plants, including soybeans, kidney beans, eucalyptus leaves and several types of spices, including basil, thyme, rosemary and cinnamon. Lee then tested the extracts for antioxidant levels and found them to be similar to those in vitamin E.
“What doesn’t make sense is how it works,” said Hannah Conway. “You can’t wrap your mind around how it works at all.”
Conway and others have a hard time putting to words the success of an unusual energy therapy — the Lenair Technique, designed to address the many faces of addiction. “I come from a big Irish Catholic family,” Conway said from her office in St. Paul, Minn. “I’m 41 now and went a long time drinking. I tried AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and it worked nearly five years.” Then Conway went back to drinking. “It was at least six beers a day, if not 12.”