Gene Beltz

Columnist Gene Beltz talks about smoking and his experience. He might not care if you smoke but your family does and the impact on long-term health care can be hard on them and your savings.

Go Ahead and Smoke, It Really Doesn't Bother Me, or Does It?

Go Ahead and Smoke, It Really Doesn't Bother Me, or Does It?

Are you a "Smoker"? If you are, it doesn't really bother me in the least. Well ... that's not completely true. Actually, I do worry about your health and welfare. I've seen family members go through the pain of dealing with poor health issues related to smoking and the use of other tobacco products. Respiratory problems, even lung cancer, are a plague to smokers.

When I was younger, cigarette commercials were a main-stay of prime-time, television and magazine advertising. Do you remember the rugged, "Marlboro Man"? Smoking made you look and feel "cool".

I bet you also remember coughing violently the first time you tried smoking a cigarette. Your body was talking to you then. It talked to me first in college, but I didn't listen.

I can't say that I ever really "enjoyed" smoking, but I smoked... actually for FREE. That's correct, you didn't misread my comment. Most all the students on the college campus got FREE packs of cigarettes, via coupons printed in the campus newspaper. That may be difficult to believe as cigarettes today edge higher and higher in price.

A $7.00 per pack cost is pretty common today. The campus quad was peppered with smokers, and local clubs were a thick cloud of smoke to navigate through. Cigarette manufacturers were willing to give students free cigarettes to get them “hooked” on smoking for a lifetime. And it worked, until health fears resulted in the government stepping in to regulate smoking amid rising health concerns.

I remember those first "Health Warnings" printed on packs of cigarettes. The print was very small and difficult to read. Besides, it was easy to believe it was all scare tactics with the government trying to suppress your freedom to smoke, right?

Then there were those reports uncovered and made public about cigarette manufacturers concealing studies they had conducted that proved the health risks of smoking and its link to lung cancer. When that became known, people began filing cigarette, smoking-related lawsuits.

As the suits worked their way through the courts, television advertising was curtailed. The government took the "Marlboro Man" away from you. He was no longer allowed to sit astride a fence or horse to brainwash you about smoking. He would no longer encourage you to smoke and help addict you to cigarettes.

Then people began winning multi-million-dollar awards in lawsuits against cigarette manufacturers. Public opinion about cigarette smoking and tobacco use was changing. The cigarette manufactures hired attorneys and ran for financial cover.

The cigarette pendulum was swinging from "cool" to "fool". Cigarettes that were once so much a part of advertising, movies, and TV, began disappearing from the public scene. You read more now about smoking, health concerns than ever before. You are flooded with and can readily access information to consider the next time you take in hand and consider buying a pack of cigarettes, or a tin of chewing tobacco.

But the choice is still yours. As sales fell, and lawsuits were filed, as huge settlements were reached, cigarette companies began steadily raising cigarette prices....to YOU!

One other thing happened that many people aren't aware of. Cigarette manufacturers shifted sales efforts to Third World nations, away from the reach of US courts and health agencies.

In the wake of all this the American smoker is left, spending much more money on purchasing cigarettes, and racing with aging toward needed health care.

I'm not telling you to stop smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco. That is your choice and you are the only one who can make that decision. I will ask you instead to remember these few facts.

As difficult and challenging as it is to "Break the Habit", it's never too late to stop smoking and using tobacco products. Research has shown the body immediately begins to counteract the health and physical damage caused by tobacco us.

Take my word for it, your loved ones want you to stop. They want you happy, healthy, and around a very long time to live and celebrate a fulfilling life...WITH THEM.

Plus, I haven't even addressed the concerns about "Second Hand Smoke" that your children, grandchildren, and friends may be effected by.

Regardless of your decision, long-term health care is going to play a role in my life, and yours. As medical-care related costs increase, the concern becomes even greater. We all live on budgets. Insurance protects us against unplanned, catastrophic events, that can financially devastate any family.

If you and your health becomes a tragic statistic and burdensome expense, I hope you have had the foresight to secure insurance to provide for your health-care needs.  The insurance cost now is minimal, compared to what the care cost will be later.

If you've made the decision to stop smoking and using tobacco, and have been successful, I am very proud of you! You won the battle in taking a major step to live a cleaner, less costly, longer, healthier, and happier lifestyle. If you want to stop but haven’t yet, remember this and draw strength from it. Your friends, family, and loved ones will be there every step of the way to help and support you. Regardless of your choice, I wish you the very best of personal happiness, family love, and health!

Editor's Note

Smoking impacts many other failing-health issues you may experience in the future.  Many serious illnesses, including cancers, have been proven to be directly related to smoking and tobacco use in all forms. Many of these health concerns lead to an even higher risk of the need for long-term care.

Long-Term Care Insurance is a way to have an advance plan in place to meet the financial costs and burdens of aging. If you are a smoker, it could impact your ability to obtain coverage, depending on current health issues you may have. For example, if you are a diabetic and a smoker, some insurance companies may unfavorably rate you, or even decline your application.

At best, smoking prevents you from getting preferred health rates.

Speak with a Long-Term Care specialist who will ask you a number of health questions in order to navigate the underwriting of a long-term care policy application.

If you are a smoker and don’t think you will ever be able to quit, you should seriously consider obtaining Long-Term Care Insurance before other health issues make securing it more difficult or impossible.

LTC Insurance is Easy and Affordable, Asset protection. A policy will provide tax-free benefits for quality care either at home or in a facility. People require long-term care due to illness, accidents, or from the impact of aging. Health insurance and Medicare (once you are 65) will pay for only a limited amount of skilled, long-term care. Most of the expense will come from your savings, or become a financial responsibility of your family, unless you plan for your care in advance.

The best time to plan is before retirement.

About Gene Beltz

Gene Beltz is a retired, professional educator, having spent 12 years teaching high school Language Arts, and 30 years serving as a Grade School Principal and School District, State and Federal Programs Director. He has a great interest in current events, politics, family, and travel. "I see learning and sharing as life-long experiences to embrace and grow from. I have friends across the spectrum of issues that I respect, admire, and often discuss differing sides of issues with. Above all, I love family, and cherish my wife, children, and grandchildren. I hope my comments create smiles, thought, and sometimes even stir people to action. I think a well-informed public makes our nation wiser, safer, and stronger. I love our country, rejoice in her greatness, and am proud of her efforts to constantly move forward to be better. There is much more about me and my life you may sense as you read my stories and comments I share here with you. I hope you find them enjoyable!"