Today we're excited to talk with Muriel L. Crawford, author of Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit.
FQ: Your research is incredibly thorough. How much time did you spend
collecting information before beginning to write? Where did most of the
information come from?
I spent seven years researching and writing Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit.
I research only in reliable peer-reviewed medical journals and other
reputable sources, and use conservative statistics. Even the most
conservative statistics show how terrible smoking is for the health of both
smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke. My wonderful Medical Advisory
Panel of eminent physicians and scientists reviewed my manuscript, but made
few corrections. I am a careful researcher.
FQ: What inspired you, a non-smoker, to collect so much data on the effects of
My father was a heavy smoker--my brother, himself a former smoker, estimates
that my father may have smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. I was raised
in a cloud of tobacco smoke and had many painful middle-ear infections as a
child. Research shows that children exposed to secondhand smoke are more
likely to have middle-ear infections than those not exposed.
My father developed emphysema that confined him to a motorized wheelchair.
He was given supplemental oxygen, but still complained that he often felt he
was smothering. Then he had a stroke that paralyzed him. He died of a
massive heart attack. His doctors said all his heath problems were brought
on by his smoking.
My brother began smoking at age fourteen. When my brother was seventeen, he
was driving on a curvy mountain road, with his girlfriend as a passenger. He
leaned down to light a cigarette, went off the road, and his girlfriend was
killed when the car rolled over. So we had these terrible things happen in
our family as a result of smoking.
Fortunately, my brother wasn't a heavy smoker and quit smoking at age 35. He
is now the age my father was when my father died, and my brother still jogs
for exercise. We're all so happy that my brother quit before his health was
I wanted to persuade my kids not to smoke, so, when they were small, I
started collecting articles about the harm smoking does. When they were in
high school they became devoted to healthy living, and I knew that they
wouldn't start smoking, so I was going to throw out my articles. Then I
thought, "I should write an article about all the bad things smoking can do
to people." That article turned into a 368-page book. There are actually
more than 201 reasons to quit smoking, but I had to stop somewhere.
FQ: The reasons to quit are also excellent reasons not to start smoking. Have
you thought about ways that your research could be used to prevent people
from starting to smoke--especially children?
Yes, indeed. I have written Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit in language
simple enough for most teenagers to understand. I hope parents will give the
book to their teenagers. I suggest this on the back cover of the book. Most
people start smoking by age 18. And if parents quit smoking, it sends a
powerful antismoking message to their kids. I mention this in the book.
Also, our marketing plan for the book includes marketing to school wellness
programs. Teachers of courses on wellness need to understand how harmful
smoking is. And Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit could be used as a
supplementary text for school wellness courses.
FQ: It seems like some smokers will resist reading your book, afraid of what
they might find out. Do you have any suggestions for concerned family
members or friends about how to present this information to smokers?
I'm sure some smokers don't want to know how dangerous smoking is. The book
will not make them comfortable. But it might save their lives. I would say
to family members and friends of smokers, "Read the book yourself, and
especially the chapter on helping others quit smoking."
I know the book will help some smokers quit. I personally know three smokers
who have quit because they read either the manuscript of the book, or the
book itself. That alone made writing Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit
worthwhile for me. I have entered a program to market the book to foreign
publishers for translation into other languages so that smokers in other
countries might be persuaded to quit. I know I can't persuade all smokers,
but, as the Talmud says, "If you save one person, you save the world." I'm
not Jewish, but I believe that.
FQ: You clearly have a talent for research and writing. What's your next
I'm collecting stories about how people quit smoking. I believe these
stories will help some smokers quit. Many former smokers have found creative
and interesting methods of quitting or preventing relapse. I would be most
interested to hear from any former smokers who want to tell me their
stories. They can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write me in care of
Dillon & Parker Publishing LLC, P.O. Box 504, Walnut Creek, CA, 94597-0504.
They should tell me if they are comfortable with my using their names in a
book about how people have quit smoking--my next project. I will only use a
former smoker's name if he or she says it's OK.