Tobacco has killed more than 100 million people in the 20th century and is one of the biggest health challenges in the world today. Cigarette smoking is a major element in tobacco-related illnesses and causes one-third of all cancers, including 90 percent of lung cancer cases. The World No Tobacco day (WNTD) is organized on 31st May every year by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners who work worldwide to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocate effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
- Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year.
- 1 in every 10 cigarettes and many tobacco products consumed worldwide are illegal.
Smoking health risks
- On an average, smokers live 10 years lesser than non-smokers.
- Smoking deprives you of some of your good cholesterol.
- It temporarily raises your blood pressure and makes it more difficult to exercise.
- Toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke cause cancer of the lung, skin, liver, blood, kidney, prostate, oesophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon, rectum, and myeloid leukaemia.
- It increases the risk of chronic disorders, such as atherosclerosis which can lead to coronary heart disease and stroke.
- In adults, second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer.
- In pregnant women, second-hand smoke causes low birth weight and can also cause sudden death in infants.
How to quit smoking
Here are a few pointers to kick the habit:
A. Prepare to quit
- Set a quit date within the next two weeks to quit smoking.
- Tell your family and friends you are planning to quit so that they can support you.
- If you take any medications, consult your doctor before quitting.
- Be aware and plan for challenges such as withdrawal symptoms and uncontrollable craving to smoke.
- Stay strong and remove things that remind you of smoking from your car, home or office.
B. Quit day
1. Choose a method or combination of methods that will work best for you:
“Cold turkey”: Just stop smoking all at once on your Quit Day
Reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day until you stop smoking completely
Smoke only part of each cigarette to help you count the number of puffs you take from each cigarette
2. Stay busy by changing your regular routine on your quit day
3. Throw away your cigarettes, lighters and ash trays. Avoid caffeine and don’t hang out with smokers
4. Eat healthy, exercise and get plenty of rest
5. Stay positive and vigilant
C. Decide if you need medications
If you are addicted to nicotine, medicines can help make your first few weeks easier. A nicotine replacement medicine (gum, spray, patch or inhaler) may help you stop smoking. Non-nicotine replacement medicines can help curb your withdrawal symptoms. Do not forget to consult your doctor for instructions on any medications.
Benefits of quitting smoking
- Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
- Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood stream drops to normal.
- Within 3 months, your circulation and lung function improve.
- After 9 months, you cough less and breathe easier.
- After 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half.
- After 5 years, your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, and bladder are cut in half.
- After 10 years, your likelihood of suffering lung cancer decreases by half, and your risk of larynx or pancreatic cancer decreases.
- After 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker’s risk.
Did you know?
There are around 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, and at least 69 of them can cause cancer.
- World Health Organization. Accessed May 8, 2015.
- Smokefree.gov. Accessed May 7, 2015.
- American Heart Association. Accessed May 9, 2015.
- National Cancer Institute. Accessed May 8, 2015.