By: Gina Pitisci
May 22, 2013
Tallahassee, FL - May is Asthma Awareness Month. More than 350,000 Americans die each year of lung disease, and thousands of people in the Big Bend area alone have been diagnosed. About 40 years ago, Tallahassee City Commissioner, Gil Ziffer tried his first cigarette at 16 year old.
He has since made the decision to quit smoking, not only save his life but also to protect his family. Ziffer says, "I started smoking a little bit, which led to smoking about a pack a day by the time I was a Senior in high school." Ziffer also admits "My wife has asthma. She has difficulty from time to time being able to breathe at no fault of her own and I was smoking."
Thanks to programs offered at the American Lung Association, Ziffer was able to get the help he needed to quit and has not picked up a cigarette in 20 years. He says "I went through the American Lung Association Smoking Cessation Program and they give you a little card and you fill out the 5 reasons why you want to quit smoking and the most important one for me is I wanted control of my life again because the cigarettes controlled me."
According to Ziffer, others can notice if you are a smoker, even if you hide it. Ziffer admits "I know it affected my family because I was a sneaker, I hid it from them. Not from my wife but from my kids. I have 2 sons, and I hid it from them so I would go outside after dinner or I would go outside after we did something and I would escape when we're in the restaurant."
Ziffer's wife, Gail Stansberry-Ziffer, says having been diagnosed with an incurable lung disease, she didn't want to see her husband face the same fate. She says, "I know how frightening it is when you can't breathe, so I really didn't want him to have long term damage and he had smoked for many years and so I was concerned, I love him."
For those of you interested in making a difference, this weekend is a great time to get involved. The "Fight for Air" Run/Walk is taking place this Saturday morning at 8am in Southwood.