Marcophiles: Quit smoking or quit the commercials about quitting


We have at least two friends whose New Year’s resolutions for 2011 were to quit smoking.

If good wishes would help, they both could have had a shot at it. But even at about $6 a pack at a Marco Walgreens and much more expensive in many other states, giving up tobacco is a hard slog.

One friend saw on TV, ads for a stop-smoking drug, Chantix. It frightened him even more than the dangers of cigarettes, so he recorded the commercial. Here’s part of it:

A pleasant-looking woman, 40-something, sits at a kitchen table, telling the camera, “My name is Robin and I was a pack-a-day smoker for 25 years. I remember telling my boys, ‘Promise Mommy you’ll never, ever pick up a cigarette.’ Brian, eight years old, looked at me and said, ‘Promise me you’ll quit.’

“I had to quit. My doctor gave me a prescription for Chantix, a medicine I could take and still smoke while it built up in my system.”

A male voice then tells how the drug worked better than a sugar pill (in tests) and was “proven to reduce the urge to smoke.” He says, “Ask your doctor if Chantix is right for you.”

Our friend considered asking his doctor, until he heard the remaining message of the commercial.

Then cam the low key but terrifying part

Over video of a couple smiling and chatting over a fruit plate, we hear soft music as an announcer guy says: “Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood or suicide thoughts or actions while taking or after stopping Chantix.

“If you notice (such) ... changes in behavior or thoughts or mood that is not typical for you or if you develop suicidal thoughts or actions, stop taking Chantix and call your doctor right away.

“Talk to your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems which can get worse while taking Chantix. Some people can have allergic or serious skin reactions to Chantix, some of which can be life-threatening. If you notice swelling in the face, mouth or throat or a rash, stop taking Chantix and see your doctor right away.

“Do not take Chantix if you’ve had a serious allergic or skin reaction to Chantix. Tell your doctor which medications you are taking, as they may work differently when you quit smoking.

“Chantix dosing may be different if you have kidney problems. The most common side effect is nausea. Patients also reported trouble sleeping and vivid, unusual or strange dreams.

“Until you know how Chantix may affect you, use caution when driving or operating machinery. Chantix should not be taken with other quit-smoking products.”

“So,” our friend asked us, “should I continue smoking or take a chance on a body rash, nausea or, oh, I don’t know, suicide?”

Getting a second opinion

We suggested he explore the drug on the Internet. In other words, do a little independent research. He went to an irreverent website, The Gawker, whose headline read, “Chantix, A Quicker Way to Die.”

The Gawker named other possible symptoms one might experience, including panic, mania, hallucinations and confusion.

Our friend’s own side effects of considering the drug, he claims, include remorse, trying candy cigarettes, sucking on celery sticks cut to the exact length of a Marlboro Light and a curious reluctance to bathe regularly.

Maybe his doable New Year’s resolution next year would be to stop watching TV. Or he could join the more than seven million people who have been prescribed Chantix. They can’t all be crazy or have a new rash. Can they?

Want to hit the new bridge running?

The big event marking the opening of our new twin-span bridge is shaping up to be The the “Jolley Be Good” 5k Fun Run, a trip across the bridge and back on the big day, scheduled for Nov. 19.

Debbie McCabe, special projects coordinator for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, gave us a preview of the run and a ribbon-cutting on that day.

“The 5k will be early, with registration starting at 6:30 a.m. at Veterans Community Park. The race begins at 7:30 a.m.”

The race route goes north on Collier Boulevard crosses the new Jolley Bridge and returns south back onto the island.

There are cash prizes for the race, which is organized by the Gulf Coast Runners Club. Would-be runners can pre-register at the Runners web site: The Humane Society of Naples is a co-sponsor of the fun run along with the city.

There will be a ribbon-cutting at some point on the 19th, to open the new span officially.

Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail

Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail:

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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