DEAR ABBY: My wife of 25 years, in an effort to get me to stop smoking, refuses to have sex until I quit. It's been more than a year since we made love.
I love my wife with all my heart, and I always will. I plan to stop smoking, but not this way. She will not give in (or give out). I don't want to think of sex as her weapon, but it is. Any advice on how to cope with my unwinnable battle? -- DESPERATE IN ARLINGTON, TEXAS
DEAR DESPERATE: Yes. You mentioned you plan to quit smoking, so why not start now? The letter below could have been written expressly for you. Once you no longer reek of stale tobacco, your wife may rediscover her passion and both your problems will be solved. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: On Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009, the American Cancer Society is celebrating the 34th Great American Smokeout, and we want to encourage your readers who smoke to quit. Research shows that smokers who quit can significantly increase their life expectancy.
A smoker who quits at age 35 gains an average of eight years of life expectancy. A person who quits at 55 gains five more birthdays to spend with loved ones.
Smokers who stop before age 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with people who continue to smoke. Ten years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half of that of someone who continues.
Quitting smoking is not easy. People often have to try several times before they are successful. But the American Cancer Society is here to help. We have been making great progress in this country when it comes to people getting the message about not smoking -- in fact, adult cigarette smoking declined to 19.8 percent in 2007.
Smokers who want to quit can call the society's Quit for Life program operated and managed by Free & Clear at (800) 227-2345 to speak with trained counselors who can help them develop a quit plan and set a quit date. The American Cancer Society and Free & Clear have helped a total of 1 million tobacco users in their attempt to quit smoking.
As the official sponsor of birthdays, the American Cancer Society is fighting for every birthday that's threatened by cancer in all communities. We hope you will join us in our movement to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays by sharing the message that the Great American Smokeout is the PERFECT day to make a plan to quit or to use as a quit date. Quitting smoking is one of the most important steps anyone can take to create a world with more birthdays. -- ALAN G. THORSON, M.D., NATIONAL VOLUNTEER PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
DEAR DR. THORSON AND DEAR READERS: I am pleased to once again spread the word about the Great American Smokeout, a subject that has appeared in this column many times. Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death in the U.S., and one-third of all cancer deaths could be prevented if people simply avoided tobacco.
The Great American Smokeout Web site (www.cancer.org/GreatAmericans) contains user-friendly tips and tools to help smokers quit and remain smoke-free. Quitting is the most precious gift you can give yourself and the people who love you. The Countdown Clock and Craving Stopper downloadable desktop applications are two of the free resources available to help you on the path toward quitting. Good luck!