Mining the Folkways Archives: How to Kick That Smoking Habit

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We've all seen those public service announcements on television advising you to stop smoking—and some are quite compelling, such as this 1985 ad with stage and screen actor Yul Brynner whose life was drastically cut short by lung cancer. Smoking is the most common cause of cancer death in this country, which is why it's important to turn your attention to preserving a healthy respiratory system during Lung Cancer Awareness Month this November.

Even if you don't partake of tobacco products, you can still develop lung cancer by way of second-hand smoke. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year occurs among nonsmokers. So paying attention to the air quality of your surroundings is an easy way to avoid health problems down the road.

Mining the archives here at the Smithsonian often turns up curious gems from the past, including this recent find from Smithsonian Folkways.  End the Cigarette Habit Through Self-Hypnosis from 1964 offers a mind-over-matter approach to saying "see-ya" to the cigs.

The album was released on the heels of a landmark 1964 report from the Office of the Surgeon General that analyzed four decades' worth of data and formally linked tobacco use to increased risk of cancer. The news ushered in a major paradigm shift for Americans: a 1958 Gallup poll indicated that only 58% of Americans thought there was a link between smoking and cancer; a 1968 poll saw that number climb to 78%. Although the report was assertive in linking tobacco's detrimental effects on one's health, it didn't offer remedies to the problem. Beginning in 1965, the federal government began requiring tobacco companies to print warnings on all cigarette packages. But in an age before nicotine patches and gums to aid in kicking the habit, one's options to stop smoking were somewhat limited. Options included going cold turkey, gradually cutting back and consulting self-help books—methods that totally relied on the willpower of the individual and could still leave visions of rolled tobacco products dancing in one's head. And then there's self-hypnosis.

How effective is it? Considering that this blogger doesn't have any medical credentials—or background in smoking—I'm definitely the last person to ask. (I gave the album a listen out of sheer novelty value.) You could always ask your regular physician and ask for an expert opinion. Or you can listen to parts of the album, and purchase it if you find yourself getting *ahem* hooked on what you hear.

For more information on lung cancer, visit the American Lung Association's Web site.

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