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May 31 is World No Tobacco Day

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day

Kick the Habit! CCHC Has a Free Way to Help

written by Holly Collins

The public has long known about the dangers that come with smoking. Tobacco use seriously impacts the health of the smoker and family and friends who are exposed to second-hand smoke. According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report, more than 20 million smoking-related deaths have occurred in the United States since 1964; 2.5 million of those deaths were among non-smokers who died from exposure to secondhand smoke. During that same time, 100,000 babies died due to parental smoking—including smoking during pregnancy.

World No Tobacco Day, first celebrated in 1987, is an annual awareness day sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and encourage governments to adopt effective policies to reduce smoking and other tobacco use.

According to WHO, tobacco use kills nearly six million people around the world each year. More than five million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030. In the United States, tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease. It causes many types of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and other health problems.

How Smoking Damages the Body

The American Cancer Society relates a 2013 study of women in the United Kingdom found that two out of three deaths in smokers who were in their 50s, 60s, and 70s were caused by smoking. The researchers observed that continuing smokers lose at least 10 years of their lifespans, but added that smokers who quit before age 40 were able to avoid 90% of the early deaths caused by continued smoking. If the women quit before age 30, they were able to avoid more than 97% of these early deaths.

Other risks include:

Cancer: Tobacco use accounts for nearly one in three cancer deaths. Women who smoke are approximately 26 times more likely than non-smokers to develop lung cancer. Types of cancer include: Mouth, throat, nose, lips, esophagus, kidney, cervix, liver, bladder, pancreas, stomach, ovary, and colon.

Heart Disease and Stroke: Those who smoke greatly increase their risk of heart disease and stroke. The risk goes up with the number of cigarettes smoked and the length of time a person has been smoking, but even those who smoke less than five cigarettes a day can have heart and blood vessel disease.

Respiratory Disease: Smoking is cited as a risk for dying of pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema. The CDC says people who smoke increase their risk of death from bronchitis and emphysema by nearly 10 times.

Diabetes: A report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggested that smoking increased the risk of developing non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (Type 2 diabetes) by more than three times.

Vascular Disease, Arthritis, and Eye Disease: Smoking can cause or worsen poor blood flow to the arms and legs (peripheral vascular disease or PVD). This can limit everyday activities, such as walking, and may lead to open sores that don’t heal. Those who smoke have lower bone density and have a higher risk for broken bones, including hip fracture. They may also be at higher risk for rheumatoid arthritis and cataracts, as well as age-related macular degeneration, which can cause blindness.

Damage to Reproductive Health: Tobacco use can damage a woman’s reproductive health. Women who smoke are more likely to have trouble getting pregnant. Smokers tend to be younger at the start of menopause than non-smokers and may have more unpleasant symptoms while going through menopause. Smokers are more likely to have miscarriages, stillbirths, babies with cleft lip or palate, and low birth-weight babies.

Reducing Smoking Rates in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains there are several ways to reduce smoking rates. Among those strategies proven to work are:

  • Higher prices on cigarettes and other tobacco products which discourage young people from starting in the first place and encourage adult smokers to quit.
  • Affordable quit-smoking treatments easily available to people who want to quit.
  • Comprehensive smoke-free and tobacco-free policies in public places that protect non-smokers and make smoking the exception rather than the norm.
  • Mass media campaigns, such as the CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers campaign, that inform people of the dangers of smoking and tell them about resources to help them quit.
  • State and community programs that help integrate tobacco control into medical, retail, education, and public health environments to reach groups of people who might not otherwise be exposed to tobacco control initiatives.

Tobacco Users Need Help to Quit

Studies show that few people understand the specific health risks of tobacco use. For example, a 2009 survey in China revealed that only 38% of smokers knew that smoking causes coronary heart disease and only 27% knew that it causes stroke.

Among smokers who are aware of the dangers of tobacco, most want to quit. Counselling and medication can more than double the chance that a smoker who tries to quit will succeed.

Want to Quit Smoking, But Don’t Know How?

If you want to quit smoking or haven’t had luck in the past, this class is for you! CCHC offers FREE smoking cessation classes as part of a community awareness program sponsored by the Harold H. Bate Foundation, the North Carolina Community Foundation, and The CCHC Foundation. Instructor Dr. Ronald Preston has helped hundreds of people successfully break the smoking habit. You can learn how and why you need to quit June 1-4 (one hour each evening). Valuable information will be shared about addiction as well as links between smoking and life-threatening diseases. Many attendees have successfully quit smoking after completing this class and we want to help you too!

Session II: June 1, 2, 3, and 4; 6:00-7:00 p.m.

This is a FREE event! Please bring a friend, spouse, or significant other. For more information, contact Stacie Barnett at 252.672.9690 or click here.