It’s not rocket science - smoking is bad for your health. But to really ram the message home each year, the 31st of May is dedicated to the no smoking cause. World No Tobacco Day is all about the dangers of smoking, not only to each individual’s health and wallet, but to everyone worldwide.
So here are the cold hard facts about smoking, that in some ways, can be even more confronting than those images on the ciggie packs that have been in place for more than 10 years.
By 2030 – 8 million people will die every single year from tobacco use. That’s the entire population of Switzerland or the United Arab Emirates, or all of Sydney and Brisbane combined – each and every twelve months.
At the moment, 15,000 Australians are killed each year. But it’s not just the fatal complications of tobacco use that are frightening.
I reckon every long term smoker who comes to me as a patient, has at least two or three symptoms directly related to their smoking, and they’re impacting on their health every single day. They are more likely to be generally unfit, obese, and have cardiovascular problems. But what’s most alarming is the impact of second hand smoke on others, especially our kids. Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure increases the risk of infertility, placental problems, and premature rupture of membranes – which can be fatal to baby.
Children brought up in households with smokers are more likely to suffer a wide range of health effects:
SIDS - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Respiratory infections. The increased risk of respiratory infections from colds and flus to pneumonia is staggering, and this includes recurrent middle ear infections. And if both parents smoke, the risk climbs higher.
Asthma. Kids of smokers have nearly twice the risk of wheeze and asthma, not to mention more frequent and more severe attacks.
Bad teeth. Believe it or not, kids exposed to second hand smoke even have worse teeth.
And what many parents don’t understand is that the risk is not just from smoking around your kids. Even just having smoke all through your clothes when you come home is enough to expose your kids to its dangerous effects. Makes for a pretty compelling argument to quit the smokes. If not for you, then for those you love.
But going it alone is easier said than done. Isn’t it?
Research has shown there’s two types of support you need to increase the chance of giving up the ciggies for good.
The first is guidance from a “coach” or support person who can help you work out why you are smoking, when you are likely to fall off the wagon, and how to come up with a plan. They help you stay strong, how not to slip back into old habits when you are stressed, or having that quiet beer at the pub. Quitline offers an outstanding resource for this.
The second, is utilising nicotine replacement products or medications. Nicotine replacement products include gum, lozenges, patches, sprays and inhalers. Medications such as Champix and Zyban are incredibly effective, but are only available through a prescription from your GP. Have a chat with them to see if they’re right for you.
What’s the best way to quit – cold turkey or cutting down slowly?
This is probably the most common question I get asked by smokers who are (finally) ready to quit. We could discuss each method in detail for hours, and for some the right answer is what will work best for them. But…. Research tells us that going cold turkey is definitely best. But if you really want to be successful, then quit cold turkey with the use of nicotine replacement or medications.
For something that sounds so simple, giving up smoking and even cutting back can be a challenge - for both the social smoker and the pack a day diehard. But embrace the resources available, especially the worldwide web. Then trust yourself, and you can do it.
Not sure where to start?
Then head to the quit.org.au website. It specialises in quitting smoking – and that’s exactly what you need. For you, and your family.
The final word on e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes and the ridiculous act of ‘vapping’ has become an increasingly popular practice across the world, especially in the young. Look, they aren’t jam packed with all the bad chemicals found in cigarettes, but, we just don’t have the data yet about how safe they truly are. Whilst many may say they’re a better option to smoking, there’s no way any government in Australia is going to legalise and support their use until they’re absolutely sure. They made that mistake once before with cigarettes remember….