Quit smok­ing - your health de­pends on it

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR BODY - Pre­pared by Phar­macy Self Care, Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal So­ci­ety of NZ Inc, 16-20 Wil­lis St, Welling­ton

All New Zealan­ders will be aware of the health dan­gers of smok­ing. And there is no doubt this aware­ness has led to a re­duc­tion in the num­bers of peo­ple smok­ing.

Even so, many con­tinue to smoke, and there re­mains the need to keep re­mind­ing peo­ple about quit­ting and the ben­e­fits it brings.

To­bacco smok­ing is a ma­jor cause of death and dis­abil­ity, es­pe­cially amongst Maori whose rates of smok­ing are dou­ble that of Euro­pean New Zealan­ders.

Even pas­sive smok­ing – in­hal­ing sec­ond-hand smoke – is the cause of death for many peo­ple. Smok­ingre­lated costs are huge and af­fect the Gov­ern­ment’s health bud­gets, not to men­tion your own spend­ing choices.

‘‘Quit­ting smok­ing is not easy though,’’ say Self Care phar­ma­cists. But if you have the mo­ti­va­tion to quit, and are de­ter­mined to do it, you can.’’

So what would be your mo­ti­va­tor? Con­sider this; to­bacco smoke is made up of 4000 chem­i­cals, and many gases. Nico­tine is the most ad­dic­tive chem­i­cal. It causes the blood ves­sels in your body to nar­row, mak­ing it harder for blood to flow around. This raises your blood pres­sure, strains your heart and re­sults in health prob­lems that can af­fect your en­joy­ment of life, now and later on.

Car­bon monox­ide gas ‘starves’ your body of oxy­gen so that your heart has to work harder – adding ex­tra strain. Tar con­tains sub­stances that cause can­cer.

There is no glam­our in cig­a­rette smok­ing, and noth­ing cool about what it does to the body. It can ir­ri­tate the eyes, nose, throat and lower res­pi­ra­tory tract. Dis­eases of the lungs, es­pe­cially asthma, are made worse by smok­ing, and smok­ers are at high risk of de­vel­op­ing chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary dis­ease (COPD) which causes per­ma­nent lung dam­age and even­tu­ally is fa­tal. Smok­ing in­creases the risk of de­vel­op­ing can­cers of the lung, throat and mouth, of blood clots that can lead to heart dis­ease or stroke (blocked blood ves­sels in the brain and loss of brain func­tion), and poor blood cir­cu­la­tion that can lead to limb am­pu­ta­tion.

If these health risks don’t scare you into quit­ting, what about the costs to you di­rectly? If you are a 20 cigaret­tea-day smoker, in a year you spend more than $5000.

What about stop­ping for the sake of your chil­dren’s health? Your smok­ing is one of the main in­flu­ences on whether or not they will smoke. If you quit, not only will you im­prove your health but also the health of your chil­dren, and their chil­dren.

Never think it is too late to give up. Even if you have smoked for years, it is worth quit­ting. Even if you have tried many times be­fore, give it another go. And never think you have to do it alone. There are many in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions that can as­sist and en­cour­age you.

‘‘We can help,’’ of­fer Self Care phar­ma­cists, ‘‘by pro­vid­ing ad­vice, and medicines such as nico­tine re­place­ment ther­apy (NRT), to help over­come your nico­tine ad­dic­tion. Us­ing NRT can dou­ble the like­li­hood that a quit at­tempt will be suc­cess­ful, and with our sup­port, or the sup­port from other quit-smok­ing coun­sel­lors (eg at Quit­line – phone 0800 778 778), this like­li­hood is in­creased.’’

Through Quit­line you may be el­i­gi­ble for a course of NRT at re­duced prices.

Don’t for­get to use all the re­sources that are avail­able to you, in­clud­ing your lo­cal Self Care phar­ma­cist, and ask them about their Quit Smok­ing Self Care fact card.

Quit­ting smok­ing is not easy though. But if you have the mo­ti­va­tion to quit, and you are de­ter­mined to do it, you can.’’

Quit­ting smok­ing is one of the best health mea­sures you can take and the health ben­e­fits are im­me­di­ate.

Photo: FAIR­FAX NZ

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