Apr 2, 2014

I Loved Lucy. But Lucy Loved to Smoke.

I loved Lucy.

But Lucy loved to smoke.

Born in 1911, Lucy started smoking as a pre-teenager, probably sometime in the mid to late 1920's. Her father died of typhoid fever when Lucy was only four and her mother was pregnant with Lucy's brother. Perhaps the stress of her home situation caused her to start smoking. Or perhaps she just wanted to look cool, like most teenagers. Who knows?

Of course, back in those days, the dangers of smoking were not yet known. Lucy continued smoking most of her life. One of her early jobs was as the Chesterfield cigarette girl.

Phillip Morris was the key sponsor of her famous "I Love Lucy" show. One day during rehearsals, she was smoking her favorite Chesterfields in the corner of the set when a representative from Phillip Morris' ad agency pulled her aside. After that, Lucy reportedly carried her beloved Chesterfields in a Philip Morris tin box.

Her husband and co-star Desi Arnaz was famous for smoking several Cuban cigars every day for years. In 1986, over 25 years after they had divorced, Lucy called him up on what would have been their 46th wedding anniversary. Desi had been diagnosed with lung cancer just a few months earlier. He died two days later.

As incredibly funny as Lucy was, the circumstances around her last years were far from funny.

Several years before her death, her doctor advised her to give up smoking. But the years of heavy smoking has already taken their toll. Lucy died of an aortic dissection, which is associated with hypertension or high blood pressure.

Smoking and heart disease are inextricably related. Smoking increases blood pressure, and smokers are much more likely than non-smokers to develop hypertension and heart disease.

In fact, about 30 percent of the deaths from heart disease are directly related to cigarette smoking.

And your risks of a heart attack greatly increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke. Women who smoke a pack or more a day more than DOUBLE their risk of heart attack.

Young women are NOT unsusceptible. Women who smoke and also take birth control pills dramatically increase their risk of heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

The good news is that if you quit smoking or switch to the smarter, safer, sexier alternative (we're talking e-cigs, baby!), you may reduce your risk of heart attack and prolong your life.

And in addition to getting healthier on the inside, you'll also look better on the outside: you'll prevent wrinkles, stop staining your teeth, and you'll also smell and taste better.

Which makes me wonder: do you think Lucy would have switched to e-cigarettes if she had had the chance?

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