Reduce your risk to major health problems by quitting tobacco | Western Cape Government



Reduce your risk to major health problems by quitting tobacco

1 May 2023

Healthcare workers who are putting their health first by quitting to smoke urge the community to do the same ahead of World No Tobacco Day (31 May).  

“We often think it’s hard to quit, but for me it is not,” says Mr Axole Peter.He usually smoked up to ten cigarettes a day, but he is busy kicking the habit and now smokes considerably less. “I want to encourage the youth to stop smoking. Smoking is not the solution to our problems.”

Fellow healthcare worker Dr Ziska Adams of Robertson Hospital is celebrating three years as a non-smoker after being a heavy smoker for14 years. “I spent a lot of money on smoking. After I quit, I initially coughed a lot, but I felt 100% better. I felt more motivated to be active. I started eating healthier. It made sense to me to take a hard look at many habits in general,” said Adams.

Healthcare workers encourage smokers to carefully consider the dangers of smoking. Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of cancer in the world, according to the Cancer Association of South Africa. Approximately one-third of all cancers are caused by tobacco use. In South Africa lung cancer features among the five top cancers in the country among men and women. 

“Tobacco most likely has cardiovascular dangers. It affects how your heart functions and your blood vessels resulting to having issues with the heart,” says Dr Monde Maruza of Khayelitsha District Hospital. Another local expert, Sr Judy Webber of Strand CDC, is also concerned about the impact of smoking. “Tobacco use is bad for you. In most cases people can be dependent on smoking and this is highly addictive. I usually advise my patients to quit smoking to avoid problems like insomnia, especially when they smoke two hours before bedtime,” says Sr Webber.

Tobacco use can also lead to:

  • Heart attack
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic diseases, including chronic bronchitis
  • "Smoker's cough" and sputum
  • Asthma
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent colds
  • Pneumonia
  • Increased risk of complications from tuberculosis and influenza.

It is not too late to stop smoking! These guidelines can help you to stop using tobacco:

Set a ‘quit date’ 

Begin by setting a “quit date” within the following 2-4 weeks. Tell your friends, colleagues, and family about your decision to quit so they can support you and help you to avoid triggers.

Plan ahead to curb your cravings

If you usually smoked after dinner, try to change your routine. Plan to spend time reading with your child or go for a walk after dinner.

Mental and emotional support

When you stop smoking or using other forms of tobacco, you may feel a range of emotions. Your healthcare worker can support you on your journey.