Free Yourself - Stop Smoking
World No-Tobacco Day is celebrated every year on 31 May. This event, which was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), has been observed each year since 1989 to raise awareness of the health problems tobacco use can cause.
The national theme for this year is "Ban Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship". Statistics show that banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce the demand for tobacco, which results in fewer people starting and continuing to use it.
Smoking increases the risk of kidney, bladder, cervical and pancreatic cancer. In addition, smokers face a higher risk of suffering from heart attacks than non-smokers and smoking contributes to chronic lung diseases like emphysema and bronchitis.
According to the WHO, cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. Cigarettes contain carbon monoxide that slows the blood's ability to carry oxygen to body tissues, including vital organs.
What are the Short-Term Effects of Smoking?
- Nicotine addiction, respiratory problems, coronary artery disease, dental problems, nervousness, depression and a tendency toward health-damaging behaviour.
- Carbon monoxide decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood, creating an imbalance in the demand for oxygen by the cells.
- Bad breath, wrinkled skin and stained fingernails.
What are the Long-Term Effects of Smoking?
- Over time, smoking increases the risk of developing problems such as heart disease, stroke, haemorrhage, emphysema, osteoporosis and many different types of cancer.
- Smoking greatly increases a woman's chances of infertility, complications during pregnancy and the early onset of menopause.
- Smoking has also been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and mental complications in babies of women who smoke.
- Smoking increases a person's risk of infections like bronchitis and pneumonia.
What is Second-Hand Smoke?
Second-hand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke, occurs when non-smokers breathe in other people's tobacco smoke. The WHO states that second-hand smoke is responsible for 600 000 premature deaths per year. Children exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to suffer from asthma, ear infections, pneumonia and bronchitis.
What Can I Do about Second-Hand Smoke?
- Make your home, workplace and community smoke-free.
- Ask smokers not to smoke around you.
- Don't allow smokers to smoke around your children.
- Ask visitors not to smoke in your home.
- If you live with smokers, set up a place outside where they can smoke or help them quit.
What are the Health Benefits if I Stop Smoking?
- Within 20 minutes your heart rate and blood pressure will drop, and in 12 hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
- Your circulation improves and your lung function increases within two to 12 weeks.
- Coughing and shortness of breath decreases within one to nine months, and your risk of coronary heart disease decreases.
- Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker within five to 15 years.
- Your risk of lung cancer and cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, bladder, cervix and pancreas decreases within ten years.
- Decreases the risk of many diseases related to second-hand smoke in children, such as respiratory diseases (asthma) and ear infections.
- Reduces the chances of impotence, infertility, premature births, babies with low birth weights and miscarriage.
Where Can I Get Help to Stop Smoking?
Tel: 021 788 9120
National Quit Line
Tel: 011 720 3145
Tel: 0800 22 66 22 (toll-free)
Tel: 021 689 5381 (08:00 to 16:30 weekdays)
Harmony Addictions Clinic
Tel: 021 790 7779
Stop Smoking Easily
Tel: 0861 115 153
Source: Department of Health and World Health Organization (WHO)