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I have been a smoker for over 45 years (since I am 15).

I have diabetes and am 100% insulin dependent. I also have idiopathic chronic pancreatitis and am complete dependent on digestive enzymes to eat and get nutrition from food. My wife stands by me and helps far more than I ever expected. Her support is incredible and I admire her patience and wisdom.

Let's start from the earlier days ...

My cousin and I worked for a construction company owned by a family member. While working in the basement of an extension we were putting on a local school, my cousin pulled out a cigarette after the first morning coffee break. He offered me one. I declined, but her persisted at offering me puffs of his cigarette. I was 15 at the time, he was 18. He was older and wiser, and I looked up to him. So, I took a few puffs. I still remember how he laughed when I spewed my drink and sandwich. Man I felt horrible. Queasy, unsteady on my feet and sick as a dog for hours. I vowed never to touch the things ever again.

A few months later, I had a "real" job. I was working as a part time pin setter at the bowling alley down the street. (Dates, me, huh?) Most of us were 15 or 16. A couple of the older guys (18? 19?) were the cool ones. At break time, they would go step outside and smoke a "slim jim", this thin long cigar. Hey, they were cool. Many of us would also step outside, and gradually, we all started smoking those awful things. I recall the first time I tried one. I bought it too ... and ended up with all of my snack (and then some) all over the back parking lot. I swear I turned more shades of green than a painter's color swatch. But, I wanted to be like these guys, so I persisted. 

A short few days later, I thought wisely about this and switched to cigarettes. At least they had a filter, I reasoned. And the saga continued. The situations we smokers tolerate are incredible. I've burned holes in more shirts and pants than I care to recall. I even recall being at my girl friend's house one time, smoking indoors, and dropped my cigarette. It burned a hole in their living room carpet – their NEW living room carpet.

Shoot forward a few years, marriage, couple of kids. And, smoked in the house, in the car ... while they were there. We didn't know the risks of second hand smoke back then. I feel awful about it now.

I have no doubt that smoking contributed to my pancreas issues. I have no doubt that smoking accelerated the destruction of my pancreas. And I have no doubt that pancreas caused the diabetes (the pancreas produces insulin, no pancreas function - or very little function - means diabetes). So every time I inject insulin, I think of smoking and what it has cost.

This is the story, but it isn't over. I have decided to give up the killer tobacco and look positively at the rest of my life. And, I expect it to be long.

For much of my working life I have been involved in extensive research. Fortunately, it is a skill I have mastered and I am able to uncover information that otherwise would be lost to the ages. Because of my background, I also know to avoid the grand claims, the alternate views, and focus on scholarly and professional reports. For smoking, diabetes, and pancreatitis, I focus exclusively on medical reports and scholarly texts.

Oh, I need to point out that I have a certain amount of contempt towards the health and medical industries. For example, my pancreatitis has been incorrectly diagnosed at least four times over a 20 year period. If this had been caught earlier on, the diseases would not have progressed this far. I also believe that the health regulators are not quite as impartial as they should be. The chemical, pharmaceuticals and tobacco companies have a lot more control over our health than they should.

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