This is National Non-Smoking Week in Canada and PublicHealth officials are urging Canadians to put the butt out for good.
Nancy Skinner, Tobacco Reduction Strategy Coordinator with Public Health within the Pictou County Health Authority, said the week’s theme is to have smokers focus on the positive aspects of quitting smoking, rather than dwelling on the negative.
“Most people know that smoking is not healthy for them, but we want them to think about how could you live, work and play better smoke free, that’s the theme of the this week. How could you live, work and play even better?” she said. “It’s important that they weigh it out and consider stopping smoking for the positive things they want in their lives.”
Skinner said Pictou County residents who want to quit smoking have several resources available to help them beat the habit through addiction services.
“If they want to do it with help, certainly the more support they have, the more successful people have proven to be. It’s not to say they can’t go cold turkey on their own, many people do, but the evidence certainly shows us that the more support they seek and the more support they have, the more successful they are,” she said.
Addiction Services in New Glasgow offers stop smoking groups, which come with free nicotine replacements. Addiction Services also has auricular acupuncture. Skinner says those quitting have said it helps with stress levels and cravings. The Smokers Help Line is also a resource that helps those looking to quit smoking. The help line is a free service through which smokers can speak to a quit coach confidentially.
“What’s become really popular is the online quit program. You can go online, register your username so it’s anonymous and chat with other people and use the interactive tools,” Skinner said. “We’re in a high tech age right now so people often like to go on the computer and chat with other people and get their support that way.”
Skinner said a cigarette contains more than 700 chemicals, many of which are poisonous, hundreds are toxic and at least 70 cause cancer. She said cigarette smoking is associate with at least 14 types of cancer and about half of kidney and bladder cancers are caused by smoking.
“It also causes cardiovascular disease, heart diseases and stroke. It can lead to diabetes. It’s associated with higher levels of cholesterol. It’s certainly well known that it causes chronic obstructive lung pulmonary disease, for example, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other breathing disorders,” she said.
“What a lot of folks might not be aware of is there are a number of really serious reproductive and developmental effects of smoking. It can affect male fertility and anomalies in their offspring such as cleft palate. For the females, it’s linked to placenta problems that can lead to miscarriage, premature delivery, low birth rates and so on.”
Skinner said this week is also about becoming aware of the effects of second and third hand smoke.
“When we’re talking about second hand smoke, it is known to cause lung cancer and nasal and sinus cancer. There’s strong evidence that it increases your risk of breast cancer,” she said. “Third hand smoke is a little bit newer to people and its starting to gain more attention. It is the residual effect of smoke, what sits in fine particles on surfaces and dust in clothing, furniture, walls, carpets, cars.
Skinner said third hand smoke is especially harmful to children, who spend more time on carpets and putting their hands and objects in their mouths. She said it also effects children more than adults because they breathe in and out more and weigh less than adults.
“Third hand smoke sits on surfaces and combines and reacts with the air and forms new carcinogens. The nicotine that’s given off during smoking can stay on indoor surfaces for weeks, months and years, especiallywhen it occurs regularly in the same location. It’s detrimental to everyone, but especially children.
Skinner said third hand smoke also affects pets.
According to the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control, tobacco is still the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada, killing 37,000 Canadians annually. Direct health care costs from tobacco exceed $4.4 billion per year and total economic costs are greater than $17 billion per year.
National Non-Smoking Week has taken place in Canada since 1977 and is organized by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control. The aim of the week is to educate Canadians about the dangers of smoking, help people quit smoking, promote the rights of individuals to breathe air unpolluted by tobacco smoke, denormalize the tobacco industry, tobacco industry marketing practices, tobacco products, use and to assist in attaining a smoke-free society in Canada.