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Published April 17, 2012, 10:17 PM

West Fargo man shares personal story of the dangers of smoking

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A local man is at the forefront of an emotional, national campaign to stop smoking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reached out to the West Fargo native for help to show the terrible effects of tobacco.

A local man is at the forefront of an emotional, national campaign to stop smoking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reached out to the West Fargo native for help to show the terrible effects of tobacco.

Brandon Carmichael lit up his first cigarette at age 15. The now 31 year-old battled his addiction for more than 10 years before becoming smoke-free.

Brandon Carmichael – Buerger’s Disease Victim: "Even myself, I don't understand how I could take it so far."

The aspiring web designer struggles every day, fighting consequences of that first inhale.

Brandon Carmichael: "At the age, of 19, my left leg was amputated just above the knee. It didn't stop there. My addiction still had the better of me, and I continued smoking off and on, and by the age of 23 I was a double amputee."

Carmichael is a victim of Buerger's Disease. It blocks blood vessels to his hands and feet.

Brandon Carmichael: "Any physical activity for a period of time is strenuous because my muscles are starving for oxygen."

Carmichael is thankful for his prosthetics, but they pose an enormous challenge.

Brandon Carmichael: "Well, my diet reflects how they fit. Which if they don't fit right, they can break down and cause irritation spots."

Buerger's Disease affects 6 in 10,000 people. That's about 100 people here in the F-M area. Tobacco Treatment Specialists at Sanford say while smokers may not be diagnosed with a disease, the harmful effects of smoking are endless.

Vickie Haberman – Tobacco Treatment Specialist: "Man, smoking is the queen of spades in a spades game. It is a very difficult thing to overcome. There is some hardening of the arteries, there are fat deposits. Starting smoking causes cholesterol changes.”

As part of this national CDC commercial, Carmichael shares his heart-wrenching story. He’s hoping it inspires smokers to gather the strength they need to quit.

Brandon Carmichael: "Don't be like myself. I constantly wonder if it was that last cigarette that took my fingertips, or the 100th cigarette that took my legs. Don't live in regret."

To stop smoking, you can call the CDC's Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW

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