Quit smoking – live healthier

Cigarette Butt

With March being Health Awareness Month, ER24 is urging people to stop smoking and to seek assistance should they be encountering difficulties quitting on their own.

Chemicals ingested by smokers include arsenic, ammonia, carbon monoxide, nicotine, radioactive substances and tar. So what do people risk every time they smoke?

Doctor Vernon Wessels, from ER24, said smoking can cause anything from chronic bronchitis, emphysema and cancer of the lips, tongue, larynx, lungs and stomach. “In addition, it affects circulation by narrowing the smaller arteries which eventually leads to vascular compromise.

“Smoking has significant impact on a person’s health and many of these effects only manifest later in life. Smoking also affects non-smokers and the unborn foetus in the case of pregnant women. Besides the health effects, smoking is expensive,” said Dr Wessels.

Dr Saloojee said tobacco use causes or aggravates about 43 different diseases, including 17 types of cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and lung diseases.

“Smoking does not cause TB, but people with TB are at greater risk of death if they smoke. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of a stillbirth and miscarriage. Babies are more likely to be born underweight and die before their first birthday.

“Smokers die on average about eight to 10 years prematurely. Between a quarter to a half of all smokers will be killed by their addiction,” he said.

Decline

Dr Saloojee added that tobacco use in South Africa has declined dramatically in recent years. “In 1994 about 32 percent of adults smoked cigarettes. By 2012 this dropped to about 16 percent.

“Between 1999 and 2011 the prevalence of smoking among young people fell by over a quarter – from 23 per cent in 1999 to 16.9 per cent in 2011,” said Dr Saloojee.

According to him, the decline in tobacco use is largely due to the ban on tobacco advertising, successful government policies, smoke-free public areas, health warnings on tobacco products and the increase in taxes on tobacco. He added however, that more girls are beginning to experiment with tobacco.

“Making cigarettes less affordable, less available and socially unacceptable is the key to reducing tobacco use among youth,” he said.

Hubbly Bubbly

If you thought a Hubbly Bubbly is a better option, think again. According to Dr Saloojee, Hubbly Bubbly’s can cause cancer and heart disease just like cigarettes.

“Sharing a water pipe also increases the risk of TB and herpes infections. All of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke are also found in hookah pipe smoke,” he said.

Myths

According to Dr Saloojee, belief that quitting is a tortured, impossible process is a myth. “The reality is that most ex-smokers say quitting was not as difficult as they thought it would be. Once they made a commitment to stop, they could do it,” he said.

He said it is also a myth to believe that it is too late to quit.

“It is never too late and never too early to quit. Smokers of all ages benefit from quitting. Soon after quitting, breathing improves, the smoker’s cough disappears and the risk of serious disease starts to fall.

“Even smokers who have already got a disease can benefit from quitting. Stopping smoking is the single best thing a smoker can do for their health,” said Dr Saloojee.

Get free help and advice by calling the Quit Line on 011 720-3145.

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