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A Smoker's Guide to Health and Fitness

The title will raise eyebrows, but the authors of a new book tell The Fix that there's room for advice to smokers besides "just quit."

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Not as preposterous as it sounds?
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By Bryan Le

01/17/13

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Everyone knows smoking is bad for you—increasing your risk of stroke, early death and being cussed out by Madonna—and that the best thing smokers can do for their health is to quit. So what to make of a book called A Smoker's Guide to Heath and Fitness?  Sibling co-authors Dr. Tamil Katz and Hilda Katz say they have a serious point to make: They believe that the fact the only health advice most smokers is get “quit” leaves those who can't quit, or won't, in the dark.

“I got the idea from realizing that many of my patients who do smoke or who used to smoke genuinely care about their health: Many exercise regularly, come in for check-ups, watch their diets, etc,” Dr. Katz tells The Fix. “These people have no book or other source of information to go to that discusses health and fitness specifically for them, short of telling them to quit smoking.” The Katzes aim to provide health information tailored to smokers, such as symptoms of smoking-related diseases to look out for, nutrition and exercise routines. "It's about a smoker's overall health, not just their cigarette habit," Hilda Katz tells us. "We look at other things they could also do to become healthier." 

But are they worried that this kind of advice might help some smokers to justify continuing their habit? “Not at all,” Dr. Katz insists. “Throughout the book, we continuoully emphasize that the best way to improve health is to stop smoking.” Though smoking bans have saved lives, Dr. Katz believes that zero-tolerance attitudes aren't the best way to stomp out the habit. “Too many smokers are reduced to social pariahs and denigrated just because they happen to smoke," he says. "It is difficult to engage a person and try to help them if you are continuously looking down at them. Imagine if an overweight person comes to you for advice on weight loss, and...you start berating them for being overweight. That person would probably not be coming back to you for help, support, and advice.” The authors also post healthy living tips for smokers at their site, Smoker's Fitness.

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