Western Cape Government Health, together with the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSF), the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and other partners have joined together as the Western Cape Tobacco Control Team in a drive to raise awareness against tobacco use and other forms of smoking.
World No Tobacco Day is marked every 31 May globally to highlight health risks associated with tobacco use, and to advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death globally and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide, or one person every six seconds. Up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco related disease.
Western Cape Tobacco Control Team brought together health promoters, nurses, environmental health officers and others involved in health promotion around tobacco in a four day drive on the week of World No Tobacco Day, starting on Tuesday, 28 May until Friday, 31 May 2013. The team shared the latest updates on research into tobacco, tobacco control legislation and other aspects of a healthy lifestyle, to raise awareness and empower health workers to take this knowledge out into their communities and workplaces.
Other partners which formed part of the Western Cape Tobacco Control Team include the TB/HIV Care Association, National Department of Health and the National Council Against Smoking. The series of events leading up to World No Tobacco Day also included a school debate, community dialogue and smoking cessation training for health workers.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), contrary to the popular belief that smoking a water pipe has little or no harmful health side effects and is better than smoking cigarettes, the smoke that emerges from a water pipe contains several toxins known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other diseases. It delivers the addictive drug nicotine and, as is the case with other tobacco products, more frequent use is likely to result in the smokers becoming addicted to it.
In addition, the fuel burned in the pipes, often charcoal, produces its own toxins, including high levels of carbon monoxide and cancer-causing chemicals.
A recent survey from the Medical Research Council showed the shocking levels of young people starting to smoke, with nearly half of Western Cape learners in grades 8 to 10 currently smoking, whilst the National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey from 2008 showed that one fifth of high school learners are smokers.
These young people are most susceptible to promotion by tobacco companies, who target young people as possible long term customers. The latest South African Demographic and Health Survey (2003) showed that amongst adults, about 35% of men and 10% of women are smokers.
Currently, legislation in South Africa has been proposed by national health, which will lead to further restrictions of smoking in public places, outside buildings, and in some outdoor public areas. If the regulations are passed, it will represent a victory for those who have a right to clean air. Another proposed regulation under discussion includes the display of graphic health warnings on tobacco products, depicting the negative effects that smoking has on health.
Ten tips for quitting smoking:
* Decide on a date to stop smoking and do it. Just quit.
* Throw away all your ashtrays, cigarettes and lighter. You don’t need reminders to smoke. Don’t keep cigarettes on you.
* Write down your reasons for quitting and read them every time you feel like a cigarette.
* When you feel an urge to smoke, beat it by: Drinking a glass of water. It will wash the nicotine out. Deep breathing. Take a deep breath, hold it for three seconds, and breathe out slowly. Do this five times. It will help you relax.
* Change your routine. Avoid smokers, alcohol and coffee for the first week.
* Ask your friends and family to help by not smoking near you and not to give you cigarette.
* Get more exercise. This will help you relax and it will ease cravings. The best way to avoid putting on weight is to eat small meals frequently and to exercise.
* Take it one day at a time. The withdrawal symptoms start to improve after a day or two and most disappear after about 14 days.
* Don’t take even one puff. One puff, leads to another, and another until you are back to a pack a day. The only way to kill urges is to starve them to death.
Be proud of your success. Every day without smoking is good news for your health and your pocket.
Issued by the Directorate: Communications for Western Cape Government Health.