Now is the time to quit smoking

28 May 2021 | Health

“The Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) joins the annual global movement of “World No Tobacco Day” with “Commit to Quit” as theme to encourage smokers to stop, and especially youngsters to refrain from taking up this unhealthy habit,” says Rolf Hansen, CAN CEO.

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is observed globally every year on 31 May.

This annual commemoration shares with the public the dangers of using tobacco, business practices of tobacco companies, what the World Health Organisation (WHO) is doing to fight against the use of tobacco, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.

Hansen points out that according to the WHO, tobacco causes 8 million deaths every year and evidence released this year, shows that smokers were more likely to develop severe disease with Covid-19 compared to non-smokers.

According to the WHO, the pandemic has led to millions of tobacco users saying they want to quit.

Worldwide around 780 million people say they want to quit, but only 30% of them have access to the tools that can help them do so. Quitting can be challenging, especially with the added social and economic stress that have come as a result of the pandemic.

Negative effects

The Member States of the WHO created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.

The day is further intended to draw attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and to negative health effects.
Smoking may increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.

Benefits of quitting

Quitting decreases the excess risk of many diseases related to second-hand smoke in children, such as respiratory diseases (e.g., asthma) and ear infections.

It also reduces the chances of impotence, having difficulty getting pregnant, having premature births, babies with low birth weights and miscarriage.

• Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
• 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
• 2-12 weeks, your circulation improves, and your lung function increases.
• 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
• 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker's.
• 5 years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.
• 10 years, your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker and your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decreases.
• 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker.

Can people of all ages who have already developed smoking-related health problems still benefit from quitting?

Benefits in comparison with those who continued:
• At about 30: gain almost 10 years of life expectancy.
• At about 40: gain 9 years of life expectancy.
• At about 50: gain 6 years of life expectancy.
• At about 60: gain 3 years of life expectancy.
• After the onset of life-threatening disease: rapid benefit, people who quit smoking after having a heart attack reduce their chances of having another heart attack by 50%.

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