If you or someone you know smoke cigarettes, it may not be an easy thing to do but if you choose to quit you will improve your health within hours and days of stopping.
No Smoking Day, an annual health campaign across the UK which aims to raise awareness of support to help smokers who want to quit cigarettes, takes place on Wednesday 10 March 2021. The initiative is organised by British Heart Foundation and also provides an opportunity to celebrate those who have kicked the habit in the past.
Whether you are a smoker who is hoping to quit, or you know someone who is thinking about kicking the habit, it’s important to remember that No Smoking Day is not an opportunity to force your opinions on others.
Instead, No Smoking Day should be a day to recognise the health and lifestyle benefits that quitting smoking offers, and provide encouragement and support to the people who need it most.
In this respect, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is eager to highlight the fact that there’s plenty of help out there for those who wish to stop but are yet to take the first step.
Cornerstone House Centre is a campaigner for a smoke-free Lanarkshire, with Cumbernauld Family Hub recently involved in supporting implementation of Lanarkshire Tobacco Control Strategy 2018-23 by including a special anti-tobacco focus and education within its delivery of Let’s Play With Bookbug for local parents and children.
The Tobacco Control Strategy looks to the future, with a focus on tackling inequalities and putting children firmly at its centre. The vision is to create a society which is smoke-free and where adults are positive anti-tobacco role models, whether they smoke or not.
CONSIDERING THE FACTS: IS TODAY YOUR DAY TO QUIT SMOKING?
What Are The Smoking Statistics In Scotland?
In a study funded by Cancer Research UK, it was found that fewer cigarettes have been smoked each year in the UK for the past 10 years. The decline can be linked to more public awareness of the health risks associated with smoking, thanks to new laws on how tobacco products can be sold and advertised.
However, despite progress made smoking is still a significant factor in society, with 28% of men and 25% of women in Scotland being smokers. Smoking remains one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK, with more than 13,000 people in Scotland dying each year from tobacco use.
Smoking levels remains higher than desired across the Lanarkshire area, with instances of coronary heart disease and COPD a particular problem in the Cumbernauld area.
What Harm Does Smoking Cause The Body?
The significant health risks of smoking include increased risk many forms of cancer, most notably lung cancer of which smoking is the cause in 70% of cases. Those who smoke are also at a much higher risk of developing cancer in their mouth, throat, bladder and liver, among other parts of the body.
Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation and also increases your risk of developing conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, dementia, peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels) and cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain).
Importantly, smoking doesn’t just affect the health of the smoker; it can also have the same negative effects on those breathing in the second-hand smoke. This is known as passive smoking, which is especially harmful for children as they have less well-developed airways, lungs and immune systems.
How Does The Body React To Stopping Smoking?
If you smoke, quitting is the single most important step you can take to protect the health of your heart. Even if you’ve smoked for years, quitting will still reduce your risk of heart and circulatory diseases. It’s never too late to quit. You might notice benefits sooner than you think. For example, did you know that…
20 minutes after you quit smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal
After 2–12 weeks of stopping, exercise becomes easier and your breathing will improve
After 2–3 days of stopping, your sense of smell and taste will improve
After one year of quitting, your risk of having a heart attack is half that of a smoker.
How Does Smoking Affect Coronavirus?
In 2020, research from a leading Scottish anti-smoking charity concluded that it is highly likely that smoking contributes to the severity of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, amid evidence that thousands up and down the country have quit due to concerns over how smoking may impact on the illness.
ASH Scotland, a national organisation which strives to take action to reduce the harm caused by tobacco, published a briefing paper which highlights smoking’s association with existing co-morbidities and the direct effect of smoking on infection as legitimate factors in why smokers are at a greater risk during the coronavirus pandemic.
The findings state that smokers are potentially at increased risk of being infected with coronavirus due to the repetitive hand-to-mouth action which can provide a route of entry for the virus. It is already well known that smoking can cause or worsen respiratory diseases and has a negative impact on the immune system.
What Advice Can Help Me Make The Decision To Stop?
Before you begin your attempt to stop smoking, ask yourself, why do you want to quit? Is it for your own health? Or is it to protect a loved one from second-hand smoke? Use your answer as your motivation throughout your journey.
Before you think about going ‘cold turkey’, discuss the best method of quitting cigarettes for you with your GP. They will be able to provide you with information on various support groups, apps and medication if necessary.
As you will already know if you’ve tried to stop smoking before, quitting an addiction is no easy feat. Make sure that you focus on your wellbeing by doing activities that help you unwind. Listen to your favourite music or podcast, socialise with your friends, or reward yourself with a spa treatment when you hit a milestone.
Many smokers lapse in their attempts at quitting when they hit a trigger, for example, drinking alcohol and eating out. Try and find an alternative to distract your mind, such as chewing gum or texting a friend instead.
The early stages of stopping smoking are most difficult. Research has shown that if you can stop smoking for 28 days, you are five times more likely to stay smoke-free for good.
What Practical Help Can I Get To Stop Smoking?
Those who use stop smoking aids and get support from their local stop smoking services are up to four times more likely to quit successfully.
Quit Your Way Scotland, a free NHS national helpline for anyone trying to stop smoking, can be contacted by telephoning 0800 84 84 84 or via NHS inform. Lanarkshire Quit Your Way is also facilitating a valuable provision during the coronavirus outbreak, with a telephone helpdesk open on 01698 206376.
Further advice and information on smoking cessation can be gathered through visiting the Quit With Help website at www.quitwithhelp.co.uk.
Are you an ex-smoker from Greater Cumbernauld who has a story that can help and inspire others to quit? If so, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub would love to hear from you. Please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share your story with a view to helping others.