World No Tobacco Day, May 31

World No Tobacco Day, May 31, 2018

May 31, is yearly World No Tobacco Day.  The focus this year is directed to the effects of tobacco smoke on cardiovascular health.  Everybody knows how disastrous smoking is for wellbeing:  both physical and mental wellbeing.  Yet, a big section of the population continue to link smoking directly to lung disease and only to a much lesser degree do they know about the huge impact of tobacco on cardiovascular disease (CVD).

It is the aim of the World Tobacco Free day 2018 to improve awareness of the link between smoking and CVD.

Some numbers & statistics

According to the World Health Organization worldwide some 7 million people die of CVD each year, due to the consequences of tobacco smoke.  Of these, almost 900000 non-smokers die of the consequences of second hand smoke.

Repeating the message, via media campaigns, health publications, medical advice of the damaging effect of tobacco is a must:  it is thanks to the continuing repetition that slowly but surely a slight decline is seen in tobacco smoking prevalence among the adult population.

According to the Trimbos Statistics Institute in the Netherlands, adult smokers (+18yrs) declined from 26% in 2014 to almost 23% in 2017.  Of these male smokers still prevail over female smokers. The biggest section of occasional smokers is among the age groups 18-25 years, whereas the biggest section of daily smokers is between ages 30 en 65.  Post midlife (50-60 yrs) a slight increase in smoking behavior is seen!  Higher education level is correlated to less smoking behavior,  whereas 80% of the smokers worldwide live in low- and middle- income countries.

The difficulties of quitting smoking

However, despite all the literature and media attention given to the health benefits of quitting smoking, genuinely and permanently quitting remains a huge challenge to the majority of the smoking population.

Smoking does not only have physical effects and consequences, but emotional, psychological ones as well.  It may well be doubtful to permanently and successfully be able to quit smoking when concentrating merely on the physical effects of smoking.  On the other hand, the emotional, psychological aspect is complex.

Withdrawal symptoms will occur, both on a physical as on an emotional level:  nicotine alters and influences body chemistry, equally so in the brain.

While certain medication or aids, such as nicotine chewing gum, patches, a.o. , might lessen physical withdrawal symptoms, they won’t do much in terms of emotional withdrawal symptoms.

Add to that the fact that many people having received a diagnosis, might find themselves in a fast downward pulling spiral, making themselves feel guilty for having caused their disease themselves.   This vicious circle will add to the stress, in turn negatively influencing their wellbeing and outcome.

Tip for the World Tobacco Free Day

During this World Tobacco Free Day, it is probably useful to draw attention to this phenomenon:  and to initiate smokers to seek help.  To allow specialized professionals to assist them.  These professionals, medically, psychologically trained to deal with the emotional difficulties of addiction, can form a helpful guide to successfully and permanently quitting the tobacco habit. Yet it is something only few of the smoking population are considering, not just for economical reasons, often because they do not like to admit to the need for assistance.

Yet proper guidance is no excessive expense:  it will make the effort of quitting so much more powerful.

 

Ref.:

  • Factsheet Roken onder volwassenen: kerncijfers 2017CBS i.s.m. RIVM en Trimbos-instituut (april 2018)
  • http://www.who.int/campaigns/no-tobacco-day/2018/en/
  • https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/guide-quitting-smoking/getting-help-with-the-mental-part-of-tobacco-addiction.html
  • https://www.healtheuropa.eu/two-new-lung-cancer-risk-factors/86180/
  • https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/nieuws/2016/06/sociale-steun-en-identificatie-met-stoppen-kunnen-rokers-helpen-te-stoppen