Kick the Habit: Stop Smoking Today! | Western Cape Government

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Kick the Habit: Stop Smoking Today!

(Western Cape Government)

In South Africa, more than 43 000 people die every year from diseases directly and indirectly related to tobacco smoke. Tobacco products such as cigarettes contain nicotine which is highly addictive. Tobacco use is one of the main risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including cancer, lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases. On World No-Tobacco Day 2012, make your health a priority and quit smoking.

Kick the Habit


World No-Tobacco Day 2012

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 that tobacco use can cause.

The national theme for this year is: "Tobacco Industry Interference" and will focus on the need to educate the general public and expose and resist the attempts by tobacco industries to undermine the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

Why is Smoking a Bad Habit?

Smoking and tobacco use is one of the leading causes of death in the world that can be prevented. The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600 000 are people exposed to second-hand smoke. Despite enough evidence on the dangers of tobacco, relatively few tobacco users worldwide fully grasp the health risks. People may know tobacco use is harmful, but choose to indulge in the bad habit anyway.

What are the Health Issues Related to Smoking Addictions?

Smoking increases the risk of kidney, bladder, cervix 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?

  • Smoking short-term effects include nicotine addiction, respiratory problems, coronary artery disease, dental problems, nervousness, depression and a tendency toward health-damaging behavior.
  • Carbon monoxide decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood, creating an imbalance in the demand for oxygen by the cells.
  • Most obvious physical effects involve 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, hemorrhage, 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 retardation 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 (ETS), 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.

While the consequence of smoking may seem far-off, they should be taken seriously. The WHO states that tobacco use is responsible for more than 6 million deaths every year, which is more than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

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, esophagus, bladder, cervix and pancreas decreases within ten years.
  • Decreases the excess risk of many diseases related to second-hand smoke in children, such as respiratory diseases (asthma) and ear infections.
  • Reduces the chances of impotence, having difficulty getting pregnant, having premature births, babies with low birth weights and miscarriage.

Where Can I Get Help to Stop Smoking?

SmokendersTel: 021 788 9120
National Quit LineTel: 011 720 3145
CANSA's eKick Butt Programme is a unique online cessation programme
Tel: 0800 22 66 22 (toll-free)
Tel: 021 689 5381 (08:00 to 16:30 weekdays)
Harmony Addictions ClinicTel: 021 790 7779
Stop Smoking EasilyTel: 0861 115 153

Sources: Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO)

The content on this page was last updated on 15 March 2014