We biked 120 miles through North Carolina today, leaving the eastern coast behind and moving inland on rural roads towards Raleigh-Durham. We passed miles and miles of beautifully cultivated fields: hay, soybeans, but mainly tobacco. North Carolina is the leading producer of tobacco in the US and tobacco is the state’s leading cash crop. Great for the North Carolina economy, but tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in the US, killing more than 480,000 people annually—more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.

Smoking is directly linked to lung cancer as well as other cancers, and second hand smoke is a leading cause of cancer in never smokers such as myself. I don’t like to preach or judge, but I have to admit that it is difficult for me to see someone smoking and not feel that they are not only harming themselves but me as well. People may look at me and think that having lung cancer must not be that bad, since I manage to do some of the physical things I do, but I can tell you it is a terrible and painful disease that robs you of breath and life. You don’t want to get lung cancer.

It is never too late to quit smoking and your risk of developing lung cancer reduces over time after you quit. Nicotine is addictive and quitting is never easy but is worth trying to protect your health and the health of those around you. As they say, quitting smoking is more like a marathon than a sprint and every time you quit you are getting closer to being smoke free. These resources can help you quit smoking today: https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/prevention-and-healthy-living/stopping-tobacco-use-after-cancer-diagnosis/resources-help-you-quit-smoking

Another friend died from lung cancer this week. That makes 6 since I started biking. I am more committed than ever to do what I can to advocate for better awareness, diagnostics and treatments.