One Way to Spread Awareness of COPD

Last updated: November 2019

COPD Awareness month presents the opportunity, for those of us who currently live with COPD and all of its symptoms, to call attention to the deadliness of the disease and also to its causes.

But how should we do that? Who should we approach? What do we say? How do we say what we need to communicate?

There are many who have no faith in our elected officials. And there are some who couldn’t care less what a “politician” thinks about their COPD predicament. But the fact is – much of our personal future health and the future health of younger Americans rest in the hands of those we elect. Are our elected representatives aware of the effects of COPD on a family, a friend, a loved one and how effective they can be in helping? Are we making younger Americans aware of the dangers of smoking and how engaging in it may lead to developing COPD? Is there enough medical research funding?

Writing to your elected official

I spent much of my professional career in government. I worked for a number of elected representatives in New York City, Washington DC, and the capital of New Jersey – Trenton. One of the responsibilities I always had in these various settings involved “constituent communications.” It was my job to speak to folks who lived in that area the elected official represented. Phone calls and emails to an elected official are very good ways of expressing your thoughts about how COPD is being treated in this country.

But, rarely are records of phone calls kept and emails are usually replied to with a “canned” answer – one that is very general.

The best communication with an elected official, in my opinion, is good old “snail mail.” When it is sent, its arrival has to be recorded and a response, customized to answer the questions raised by it, must be answered. If you are so inclined to take advantage of COPD Awareness month, you can merely change the return address (to yours) and change the addressee (to the elected official you’d like to reach).

John Jones
1234 Main St.
Anytown, USA 00001

Hon. Mary Smith
The Capital
5678 First St.
My State, USA 00002

Ms. Smith:

More than 65 million people around the world have moderate or severe COPD.

I am one of them.

In 2015, (most current figures) 3.2 million people worldwide died from COPD, an increase of 11.6 percent compared with 1990. During that same time period, (1990-2015) the rate of COPD increased by 44.2 percent to 174.5 million individuals. In the United States, an estimated 16 million adults have COPD. However, the American Lung Association (ALA) thinks there may be as many as 24 million American adults living with COPD.

What causes COPD?

  • Smoking - Approximately 85 to 90 percent of COPD cases are caused by cigarette smoking. A burning cigarette creates more than 7,000 chemicals. The toxins in cigarette smoke destroy air sacs and weaken your lungs' defense against infections - contributing factors for COPD.
  • The Environment - Long-term exposure to air pollution, coal dust, secondhand smoke and dust, fumes and chemicals (often work-related) can cause COPD.
  • Alpha-1 Deficiency - This form of COPD is caused by a genetic (inherited) condition that disables the body's ability to produce a protein (Alpha-1) that protects the lungs.

Although COPD is the third largest killer in the United States, the disease receives nowhere near what #1 killer (Cancer $1.8 billion) and #2 killer (Heart Disease, $1.2 billion) receive in research funding. The research funding dedicated to COPD in 2019 is $97 million dollars. While that may be an impressive figure, in 2015 it was $107 million dollars. 165th in government funding.

Please contact the National Institute of Health (NIH) on my behalf and other constituents of yours who suffer from COPD and request that the funding for COPD research be increased to reflect the number of Americans and American families it so terribly hurts.

Sincerely,
John Jones

I guarantee that you will receive a reply from whatever elected official you may write to. Honestly – you’re in for a pleasant surprise!

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