This World No Tobacco Day (31 May), SWSLHD Respiratory Physician Dr Belinda Cochrane and the Wests Tigers are calling for more people to support their friends, family and colleagues in quitting smoking.
9 out of 10 households in south western Sydney are smoke free and so are all the Hospitals across the District which Dr Cochrane said has helped with reducing the effects of second hand smoke exposure.
“We want to continue generating awareness about the health risks of tobacco use and related issues such as second hand smoke, particularly around children,” Dr Cochrane said.
“We also want people to enjoy free fresh air when visiting Hospital which is why we promote a smoke free zone,” she said.
Tobacco use can cause a myriad of cancers and is the largest preventable cause of death and disease today.
“Many smokers know that smoking damages their health, but they may not realise that the benefits of quitting tobacco start almost immediately,” Dr Cochrane said.
“That list of benefits will continue to grow for many years and using anti-smoking medication along with smoking cessation counselling at least doubles your chances of quitting.
“Subsidised anti-smoking medications are available on prescription, just ask your treating doctor for more information,” she said.
“It’s important to remember that we now recommend that nicotine patches are used in combination with a short-acting nicotine product, such as an inhaler, tablet, lozenge, gum or spray to help with cravings.
Wests Tigers’ forward Josh Aloiai said he never really had an interest in cigarettes because he was always focused on playing good football.
“I need to keep my speed and fast reactions up so I can perform to the best of my ability on the field,” Aloiai said.
“If I was a smoker, there is no way I’d be able to participate in power training drills or have the lung capacity to meet the demands of a rigorous footy game,” he said.
Elaine Morris who is a registered nurse has also become an anti-tobacco evangelist, after quitting cigarettes.
“When I arrived from Scotland in 2007, I did a spirometry test to assess how well my lungs were working and despite being 39 years old at that time, my lungs were functioning as if they were 76 years old.
“I gave up in that same year and now at 49 years old; my lungs are functioning as they should for my age, which shows that smoking was severely affecting my ability to breathe.
When cigarette cravings hit, Ms Morris said the best thing that a person can do is to stay busy.
“When I see someone smoking, whether they’re my patient or not, I share my story and advise them to stop. I know from personal experience that quitting smoking is probably one of the hardest things anyone can do but it was easily the best decision I ever made.
“If you feel like picking up a pack, distract yourself with a hobby such as reading, exercise, taking the dog for a walk or doing some gardening,” Ms Morris said.
There are a number of things you can do to increase your success in a quit attempt:
1) Use anti-smoking medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms. These medications are available on prescription, just ask your General Practitioner.
2) Ring the Quitline on 13 7848. It offers a free (small fee from mobiles) confidential service with fully trained counsellors. Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese and Aboriginal Quitline counsellors are also available.
3) Visit the Quit website www.icanquit.com.au which provides up-to-date information and personalised quitting advice
4) If you are experiencing cravings you can use a short-acting nicotine product. Alternatively, you can have a glass of water, go for a walk or do something to distract yourself until intense cravings stop.
5) Establish a healthy routine including exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. The Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service is a free, confidential telephone-based service for people over the age of 16 years who want advice and support to lose weight, improve their diet or be more physically activity. Getting started is easy, simply phone 1300 806 258, register online www.gethealthynsw.com.
6) Remember, many people don’t manage to quit on their first attempt. So, if at first you don’t succeed, quit and quit again.