World No Tobacco Day
Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of death all around the world. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 8 million people die each year due to tobacco use, including more than 1.2 million non-smokers who die due to second-hand smoking. To spread awareness about the dangers and harmful effects of smoking and to discourage the use of tobacco, every year 31st May is celebrated as “World No Tobacco Day”.
Research has found that regardless of age or duration of smoking, quitting helps reduce the risks of cancer and other tobacco-related diseases and even increases life expectancy. Especially now the pandemic has made it more critical than ever for us to recognise the tobacco problem. Smoking weakens our immune system which makes us more prone to the risk of developing respiratory infections. We do not know which other pandemics the future has in store for us, but we have to recognize that many of the underlying health conditions that can leave many individuals at greater risk for severe complications in such epidemics are often caused by tobacco use.
Smoking is both a physical addiction and a psychological habit. The nicotine present in cigarettes provides a temporary and addictive high. Nicotine causes a “feel good” effect on the brain, which is why people turn to smoke to boost their outlook, relieve stress and unwind. Some also use it to cope with depression, anxiety or boredom.
When a person stops smoking and the regular fix of nicotine is eliminated, it causes your body to experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Hence, quitting smoking means you need to find better ways to cope with your feelings and release stress.
But sometimes, smoking is ingrained in some people’s life as a daily ritual. It might be an automatic response for them to smoke a cigarette with their morning coffee, during the lunch break or when they’re travelling to work or school. Therefore, to successfully stop smoking, one must not only recognize their addiction, and habits but also break the routine associated with it.
You can start with your No Tobacco Journey with START:
- S = Set a date – Set a date within 2 weeks, so that you have enough time to prepare for quitting without losing the motivation to quit. You can start by reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke.
- T = Tell others you’re quitting – Let your friends and family know your plan to quit and ask for their support and encouragement.
- A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges – Prepare yourself for common challenges such as nicotine withdrawals and cravings so that you don’t relapse.
- R = Remove cigarettes – Throw away all the cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays at your house and workplace.
- T = Talk to a doctor – Go talk to your doctor about quitting. He may prescribe medicines to you that might help you with the withdrawal symptoms.
According to WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, one of the best ways to control tobacco use at a population level is to increase taxation. Research conducted over many decades shows that an increase in taxation and the price of tobacco products is the single most effective tool in reducing tobacco use. Among their effects, substantially higher tobacco taxes motivate people to quit and reduce the frequency and intensity of their consumption.
One other way is to make stricter policies about smoking in public places. Such comprehensive smoke-free policies help to eliminate exposure to second-hand smoke, which is a cause of serious disease and death, including death from cancer, among non-smokers. But the benefits of comprehensive policies are far broader than this; such policies foster social norms against tobacco use and facilitate quitting by spurring quit attempts amongst smokers.
Young people who smoke come in groups that are not easily reached by standard interventions. Hence, it can help to provide advice on social media. Research has shown that almost 70% of young people use social media daily. They may respond positively to the advice offered by social media than follow government policies and regulations. Because of this, researchers have started to explore using social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to deliver and improve interventions targeting smoking.
If you or someone you know is struggling with quitting smoking, then share this with them to help them out. Make a pact with them to quit smoking this “World No Tobacco Day.”