World No Tobacco Day: Commit to Quit
Dr Rodrigo Rodriguez-Fernandez, Medical Director, Health Consulting, NCD & Wellness programs
"Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year." ¹
World No Tobacco Day is on 31 May this year. This day aims to help smokers quit and raise awareness of the health risks associated with smoking.
Research has shown that tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
The Health Effects of Smoking
Smoking Affects Your Appearance:
Quitting has an immediate positive impact on your body’s appearance. Moreover, when smokers quit, they report many positive life changes, like more energy, more money to spend, food tastes better, increased quality life years and free time!
Smoking and Cancer:
Tobacco smoke has at least 70 chemicals known to cause cancer in various organs – especially lungs, oesophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat/pharynx, blood, bladder, kidney, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon, and rectum.
Smoking and other Non-Communicable Diseases:
Smoking affects nearly every organ of the body and increases your chances of many non-communicable diseases.
- Cardiovascular disease: Smoking damages your blood vessels – increasing the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes. Even smoking a few cigarettes occasionally (socially) can increase your risk of heart disease
- respiratory disease: smoking leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and triggers asthmatic attacks
- high blood pressure: smoking makes the heart beat faster and narrows blood vessels leading to high blood pressure
- smoking can lead to an increase risk of type 2 diabetes (Diabetes mellitus).
The Health Benefits of Quitting
Take a look at the timeline of benefits when you quit smoking:
- After 20 minutes: blood pressure and heart rate drop
- after 12 hours: the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal
- between 2 weeks – 3 months: blood circulation improves. Lungs start to function better
- between 1 – 9 months: coughing and shortness of breath reduce. Risk of infections decreases
- after 1 year: heart disease risk decreases to half that of a smoker
- between 5 – 15 years: risk of stroke is the same as that of a non-smoker
- after 10 years: risk of lung cancer falls to about half of a smoker. Risk of mouth, throat, oesophagus, bladder, cervix and pancreas decreases
- after 15 years: risk of heart attack is the same as that of a non-smoker.
Quitting may require several attempts. Keep trying; don’t give up if you fail initially. Call the national toll- free quitline or speak to your local doctor today to quit smoking.
In light of the challenges imposed by COVID-19, it is important for organisations to ensure that other potentially fatal diseases caused by smoking are not neglected.