An irreversible effect of smoking strikes Mr. Spock

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A few days ago, Leonard Nimoy, the actor best known for his classic portrayal of the emotion-challenged half-Vulcan first officer on the USS Enterprise, Mr. Spock (or just Spock if you re in Starfleet Command), announced that he had been diagnosed with COPD: chronic obstructive pulmonary (lung) disease.

"I quit smoking 30 yrs ago. Not soon enough. I have COPD. Grandpa says, quit now!! LLAP," the actor tweeted. (The sign-off represents Spock s Vulcan salutation, Live Long and Prosper.)

Subsequent tweets supplied a little more information:

Smokers, please understand. If you quit after you're diagnosed with lung damage it's too late. Grandpa says learn my lesson. Quit now. I'm doing OK. Just can't walk distances ¦.

The 82-year-oldMr. Nimoy, who has been very active and generous in the NYC arts scene since he left Hollywood some decades ago, is right on target regarding the cause and course of COPD: over 90 percent of cases are directly related to cigarette smoking, and once it starts, it tends to be progressive. This little-known but often tragic fact is well-described in ACSH s 1999 (but still classic) publication, The Irreversible Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking.

ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross said, I can t say it any better than Mr. Nimoy: smokers, quit! I d add, to everyone, if you never start, your chances of LLAP are much higher than smoking for even a few years, so don t pick up that first cigarette!