An estimated 443,000 deaths occur each year in the United States due to smoking. And it’s not just the smokers who are dying either, as approximately 46,000 of those annual deaths are non-smokers, succumbing to the negative effects of secondhand smoke. But we’re not here to lecture you or scare you, just inform you.

As of July 2011, 27 states in the U.S. have banned smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars. But that still leaves nearly half the states with smoke-filled venues. And while some musicians have the clout to put a smokefree air clause in their performance contract, not all artists can afford to pass up playing the smoky bar circuit on tour. If you do choose to make a choice to only play clean-air bars, check here for a list of cities with smokefree bars when booking your tour.

And if you are going to play in a smoking venue, keep in mind that there’s not really anything that can completely counter the exposure of an evening of smoke. But there are plenty of things you do to promote good lung health, for smokers and non-smokers alike. So, apart from dawning an oxygen mask during your next gig, here are a few tips to make sure you have the healthiest lungs possible:

Exercise. Run, climb the stairs, ride a bike, or walk briskly. 15 minutes at a time, 2-4 times a day minimum. 10-20 crunches a day will help strengthen your chest muscles (and give you sweet abs).

Take daily supplements like fish oil. The main ingredient in fish-oil supplements is Omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation, which is the main cause of most airway problems.

Practice breathing exercises. Like diaphragmatic breathing (breathe deeply, hold it, exhale, repeat) or try these exercises.

Eat tomatoes and drink wine. Eating right is an obvious part of overall health but for lungs specifically, research has found that people who eat tomatoes 3 times a week had better lung function. It is also recommended to have 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Research also proposes that the high levels of antioxidants found in wine might protect lung cells from the damage of smoke (and air pollution).

Be positive. Harvard research found that optimists had much better lung function and a slower rate of lung function decline than pessimists.

Is playing smoky venues an issue for you when touring? Any tips to share? Let us know in the comments section below.

-Molly King

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