Kicking the Habit on World No Tobacco Day

May 31st is World No Tobacco Day and it’s a time for smokers everywhere to reconsider the harm they do to themselves with their decidedly unhealthy habit. No one can now claim that smoking is in any way beneficial to human health, and the damage that smoking causes around the world is astounding.

Figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that more than 7 million people die every year from tobacco-related diseases. This includes nearly 1 million people who never smoked but inhaled secondhand smoke and went on to develop a condition or disease that killed them. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death around the world. So getting people who smoke to stop, or at least take up healthier alternatives, would have an enormous impact on global public health.

Yet despite the clear and huge risks that smoking poses to people’s health, and most smokers’ knowledge of the harm they’re doing to themselves, there are still a lot of people puffing away. Today, around 1.1 billion adults are regular smokers, and many of them are found in the more developing parts of the world — places like Southeast Asia, where in some countries giant tobacco firms are still allowed to advertise their cigarettes, including near schools, in the apparent hope of luring young children to their deadly products.

‘Threat to Global Health’

“The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced,” says the WHO, adding that around “80% of the 1.1 billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest. Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of healthcare and hinder economic development.”

And — highlighting other risks from tobacco — the global health body says that in many poor communities around the world, children are forced to work in tobacco farms to help provide for their families. Many of them become ill as a result. “These children are especially vulnerable to “green tobacco sickness”, which is caused by the nicotine that is absorbed through the skin from the handling of wet tobacco leaves.”

This year’s World No Tobacco Day — an initiative of the WHO — is focused on the theme of tobacco and lung health. It will seek to raise awareness around the world of the impact that tobacco has on lung health, and how it can lead to cancer and chronic respiratory disease. It will also remind people of the vital role that the lungs play in the health and wellbeing of people everywhere. This year the campaign is also calling on governments around the world to introduce effective measures to protect people from tobacco as well as to try and reduce its consumption.

How to Stop Smoking?

“The most effective measure to improve lung health is to reduce tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure,” says World No Tobacco Day 2019. “But knowledge among large sections of the general public, and particularly among smokers, on the implications for the health of people’s lungs from tobacco smoking and secondhand smoke exposure is low in some countries. Despite strong evidence of the harms of tobacco on lung health, the potential of tobacco control for improving lung health remains underestimated,” it says.

Giving up cigarettes is certainly no easy task, as once someone becomes addicted to nicotine, it’s incredibly hard to shake it off. For a growing number of people, however, the answer lies in not quitting nicotine but all the many thousands of toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke. Nicotine is, it turns out, not the real enemy.

How to achieve such a stop-smoking task while still getting your nicotine buzz? Vape.

This is the route that leading health authorities such as those in the United Kingdom are urging smokers to take, and they’re doing it because of research that says using an e-cigarette is almost completely harmless compared to smoking. Smokers can start off with vape kits that have everything they need to get vaping quickly and easily, and they can choose vape juice of different nicotine strengths depending on their current tobacco use — high-strength if they’re a heavy smoker, for example, so they will feel satisfied and not be tempted to light up again.

Maybe, thanks to tens of millions of people taking up vaping and quitting smoking, there will be far fewer smokers by time World No Tobacco Day rolls around next year.

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