With No Smoking Day taking place on Wednesday 11 March 2020, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub takes the opportunity to highlight that there’s plenty of help out there for those who wish to stop but are yet to take the first step.
First held in 1984, No Smoking Day is an annual health awareness day across the UK which aims to raise awareness of support to help smokers who want to quit cigarettes. The campaign, which is organised by British Heart Foundation, 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.
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.
THE IMPACT OF SMOKING ON YOUR HEALTH AND HELP WITH QUITTING
Smoking in the UK
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 nine 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.
The Health Risks of Smoking
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.
The Benefits of 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 2–3 days of stopping, your sense of smell and taste will improve
After 2–12 weeks of stopping, exercise becomes easier and your breathing will improve
After one year of quitting, your risk of having a heart attack is half that of a smoker.
Advice and Guidance for Those Who Want to Stop Smoking
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.
Getting Help with Quitting Smoking: You Don’t Need to Go It Alone
Those who use stop smoking aids and get face-to-face support from their local stop smoking services are up to four times more likely to quit successfully.
Cumbernauld citizens looking to stop smoking can get expert face-to-face advice from Quit Your Way, a free NHS stop smoking service. A drop-in Cumbernauld surgery providing bespoke advice and support is available every Monday at 5.30pm (except school holidays) at the Health Room, Cumbernauld Central Health Centre, North Carbrain Road, Cumbernauld, G67 1BJ. Further information can be obtained by contacting NHS Lanarkshire on 01236 707714.
Specialist help is also available for pregnant women by contacting the Quit Your Way Pregnancy Team on 07811 84035, and those facing mental health challenges through contacting the Quit Your Way Mental Health Team on 01698 456219 / 07580 985255.
Further advice and information on smoking cessation can be gathered through visiting the Quit With Help website at www.quitwithhelp.co.uk, or contacting Quit Your Way on 0800 84 84 84.
Are you an ex-smoker from 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 on 01236 739220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like us to share your story with a view to helping others.