Thursday, May 13, 2010

Author Interview with Muriel L. Crawford

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 smoking?

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 ruined.

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 project?

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 muriel@crawfmail.com 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.

To learn more about Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.