Smoking is NOT Cool

November 7, 2014 by Vascular Experts

In 1985, my thirty-something, hard-working parents, who lived in New London County at the time, smoked cigarettes regularly. I was five years old. It broke my heart. I was so anti-smoking that I pestered them daily, begging them to stop. I thought smoking cigarettes was a death sentence and I was so afraid to lose my parents. So, Dad stopped. Then, Mom stopped. And now their smoking seems like ancient history.

I now know that the United States’ anti-smoking campaign was in full swing in the 1980’s.


According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association written in 1989, the prevalence of smoking was steadily declining in 1985. Men and women, white and black, were quitting smoking. More importantly, the rate of initiation of smoking was declining. In other words, smoking was losing its cool. Then, over the next decade, smoking became the center of all-out warfare. In 1997, President Clinton’s chief domestic policy adviser announced, “Joe Camel is dead. He had it coming.”

And thank goodness! Simply put, smoking is bad for your health.

Are you still smoking? What about your Dad? Mom? Brother? Sister? Let’s review just a few reasons why you [or they] should stop.

Smoking can cause lung cancer. That’s probably the most often-cited reason to quit smoking, but there are more. Smoking also causes pancreatic cancer, from which patients rarely survive for more than 2 years, even after curative treatment. It also causes miserable lung diseases like bronchitis and emphysema, which render some patients dependent upon an oxygen tank for the rest of their lives.

As a vascular surgeon, I treat atherosclerosis, which is also caused by smoking. Atherosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of arteries all over the body. When atherosclerosis blocks the carotid arteries in the neck, it can lead to stroke. It can cause gangrene of the arms and legs, and possibly amputation, by narrowing arm and leg arteries. It can clog the arteries that feed the heart, causing a heart attack. Atherosclerosis can even lead to the inability to have an erection, i.e. erectile dysfunction. Not to mention halitosis (bad breath). The list goes on …

Today, only 9% of our teens smoke, down from 23% in 2000. That’s great news! Hopefully, they’ll never start smoking, never think it’s cool. But, our country’s anti-smoking campaign can’t end until it’s 0%, until the parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts of our teens quit smoking too.

We, at The Vascular Experts, can help you! Lots of aids now exist to help you stave off cigarettes. In the meantime, we’re here to help you reverse the damage of smoking. Come see us!


Brittny Williams Howel, MD, RPVI

Brittny Williams Howell, MD, RPVI is a board-eligible vascular surgeon at The Vascular Experts, where she uses her expert experience in the treatment of peripheral arterial disease, carotid artery disease, aortic disease, and venous disease including varicose veins and thrombosis.

Dr. Howell received a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Chemistry from Duke University. She received her Medical Degree with Honors in Cellular Biology from New York University School of Medicine. Her general surgery training was completed at NYU Langone Medical Center and her vascular surgery training at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital-Washington Hospital Center. Dr. Howell is an Associate Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Candidate Member of the Society of Vascular Surgery.

Please contact Dr. Howell at with any vascular related questions.