Most of my life has been drenched in alcohol and tobacco.
Most of my childhood I lived around adults who smoked, seemingly at Mad Men levels. Tried it a few times, and it never really took. My mother quit when I was about ten years old, and my father passed a few years ago from complications from smoking (and when you pass away three weeks after a triple bypass....that's not good). In fact, later in my professional life I worked towards clean air ordinances - so much that I attempted a few blog posts, but nothing came of it.
I am writing this because today is the Great American Smokeout, an effort by the American Cancer Society to encourage smokers to quit for at least one day. (Or more accurately, those smokers who want to quit). Admittedly, tobacco use and secondhand smoke are emotionally charged issues...but as long as states are putting in the effort to prohibit smoking in public places, let us also put the effort on them to fund cessation efforts. If you want to do something in support of the Smokeout, but do not know anyone who wishes to quit...my suggestion is to get involved in helping fund and promote cessation as an option. Tobacco use will not ever go away, but having a balance in providing resources - always a good thing.
(Hard to believe that the old community organizer spirit hasn't gone away).
On a related note, part of my previous professional life also involved work with substance abuse treatment & prevention. As I've stated before, I have never been a member of AA, but have plenty of friends in the program, so I've received second-hand recovery. (How's that for a transition?) So I was quite surprised - shocked, quite honestly, when Roger Ebert broke his anonymity on his blog.
Part of it, admittedly, is the whole I-can't-believe-he-had-a-problem-he-seemed-ok-to-me syndrome...but much of it is that to do so in a public way, and not avoiding directly addressing AA. (The only other person to "say it without saying it" is Craig Ferguson in a popular You Tube video). But there's something extremely powerful - in light of his other health issues - about admitting that he has had an issue, and that he's not cured, he's recovering.
Pop culture often glamorizes substance use, and then trivializes treatment (Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew anyone?). Having lived through others' use, as a blogger, I think it's important to not only educate myself, but also work towards encouraging others.
Today is the Great American Smokeout. If you're looking for help, click on the link.
Hopefully, I've done my part.