Smoking Issues

No Safety In Secondhand Smoke!

The epidemic of tobacco use is one of the greatest public health threats the world has faced.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death. In fact, tobacco is the only product which, when used as directed, causes ill health and death.

This year nearly six million people will die from a tobacco-related heart attack, stroke, cancer, a lung ailment or other disease. Of this number, around 5 million are current users or former users of tobacco, but there are also more than 6000,000 people - almost a third of them children - who will die from second-hand smoke.

Generally the introduction of measures to improve community health are universally supported - measures such as the building of effective sewage systems, the availability of clean drinking water and the promotion of vaccination. However, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the efforts of various countries to implement tobacco control, and thus save thousands of lives, is being energetically undermined by the tobacco industry.

So, this year, the theme for the WHO sponsored World No Tobacco Day (31 May) is "resisting tobacco industry interference".

In Australia the introduction of legislation to enforce plain packaging of cigarettes has caused some controversy and debate; a debate fuelled by the seemingly desperate attempts by the tobacco industry to convince us that the law will impinge on their legal rights; and that no branding, no logos and no corporate colours on cigarette packs will not only have no beneficial effect, but might also lead somehow to an increase in smoking.

Regardless of how cigarettes are presented, there would hardly be a man, woman or even child in Australia who doesn’t know about the dangers of smoking. And yet, there are probably many reasons why people begin to smoke – peer pressure is a particularly relevant factor in young women. But the reality is, once you start smoking it’s mighty hard to stop. Nearly two thirds of smokers would like to stop smoking, but fewer than 1 in 20 people who try to quit will actually remain non-smokers after three months.

Up until recently, it was thought that stopping smoking completely – either cold turkey or with the help of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) – was the best way to ensure becoming a long term non-smoker. But this “quick stop” method doesn’t suit everyone.

The “cut down then stop” (CDTS) method has now been given the official seal of approval. Evidence has shown that reducing the number of cigarettes smoked with the assistance of NRT, makes it easier for some heavily addicted smokers to ultimately quit completely.

Also, the simultaneous use of more than one nicotine replacement therapy product used not to be considered appropriate. But experience has shown that some smokers who continue to have cravings with single therapy, or those who have quit in the past and then relapsed, will benefit and become long-term quitters by using the patches and gum together.

NRT can be a useful tool for just about everybody to assist with smoking cessation; that is everybody regardless of age, sex or medical history; and using NRT to quit is always safer than continuing to smoke.

There are many myths and misconceptions about the effects of nicotine and NRT. If you need some help to quit, make sure you get the facts and the right advice on what products will suit you best. Ask for the fact cards on Smoking and Staying a Non-smoker from one of the pharmacies or come in store and speak with one of our friendly pharmacists for more advice.

Of course if you're already a non smoker, make sure you avoid all that smoke other people are generating.