Although Peter Jennings was known for thinking ahead it's difficult to imagine that he could have foreseen the impact of his passing upon smokers. Quitting forums across the Internet are reporting a sudden influx of concerned smokers. They're not just reading a few web pages about quitting but downloading entire books.
WhyQuit, the Internet's oldest forum devoted exclusively to the art, science and psychology of abrupt nicotine cessation (educated "cold turkey" quitting), has seen its collection of free electronic books flying off the shelves.
"Although we'd love having Peter back, I hope his family knows that their horrific loss is indirectly translating into untold thousands of others avoiding a similar fate," says John Polito, WhyQuit's editor and founder. "His influence is still at work, saving lives." WhyQuit's free offerings include the following:
"Joel's 'Never Take Another Puff' is the foundation for all our online work," says Polito. It's a collection of ninety short quitting articles on every topic imaginable. Since 1972 Joel Spitzer has devoted his life to smoking prevention and cessation. Aside from managing WhyQuit's free quitting forum, where he daily addresses the concerns of 3,500 online quitters, he presents quitting clinics and seminars for the Evanston and Skokie Illinois Departments of Health.
"I've yet to locate anyone who has presented more quitting programs than Joel," says Polito. "He's not only the Hank Aaron/Babe Ruth of smoking cessation, like Peter Jennings, his wisdom and insights seem to be in a league of their own."
One of Joel's key lessons is that the true measure of nicotine's power isn't in how hard it is to quit but in how easy it is to relapse.
"What everyone should learn from the Peter Jennings story is how even after twenty years no one is immune from relapse, that there is absolutely no legitimate reason to relapse and that relapsing actually carries potentially life threatening implications," says Spitzer.
"We hope that Peter Jennings' tragedy helps to raise public awareness to the importance of smoking prevention for kids and the importance for adults to work at cessation efforts before they too face such life threatening implications," says Spitzer. "It truly is a fight for health and life."
According to Spitzer, the way to best avoid ever having to face this same fight yourself, or to enhance your chances of surviving in the event that a disease is already in progress, is still to stick to a personal commitment to never take another puff!
WhyQuit is more than just quitting articles and online peer support. It's home to a number of tragic stories of young smokers who lost their lives to their dependency. Visitors learn about Bryan, who was 34 when small cell lung cancer left his two-year-old son fatherless. They'll meet Noni, who had just turned 33 when small cell lung cancer left her six-month-old son without a mom.
"Most smokers know they need to quit," says Polito. "It's our mission to teach them how."