Ads on cigarette packages, anti-smoking commercials on TV, and no-smoking signs… everywhere. The world keeps us pretty aware that smoking cigarettes (or cigars, or pipes!) can negatively impact our health—but, we less often probably think about things like chewing tobacco, “snuff” and “dipping tobacco” (hadn’t heard of that last one? Me either!).
May 31st is World No Tobacco Day. Most of us have heard that we shouldn’t use tobacco, but, do we really know why? Lung cancer may be the first condition to come to mind, but there are even more reasons not to—and, more reasons to make a plan to stop using tobacco if you do.
If you currently use tobacco, quitting can be difficult—nicotine, a chemical component of tobacco, as well as the tobacco leaf itself, are addictive substances: the drop in nicotine levels in your body signals your brain that you “need another” hit of tobacco. Discuss quitting with a doctor or pharmacist to increase your chances of being successful, and think of your reasons for quitting: your health, your children’s health, or even saving money, are all good reasons to quit—and there are many more.
The good news is, positive physiological changes, or health benefits, begin in your body as soon as twenty minutes after your last cigarette. Your heart rate will drop first, and within two hours, your heart rate will have dropped lower and blood pressure normalized. That was fast! The two hour mark is also when people start to have very intense cravings for another cigarette. Within 2 to 3 weeks, you’ll stop having withdrawal symptoms, and your exercise tolerance will return to what it would be if you’d never smoked! And, in the long term? By 15 years out, your risk for heart disease will be the same as it was if you’d never smoked. Short term pain for huge long-term gains. Read more about the facts above—and more—here!
It can be hard to encourage someone to quit using tobacco. Oral tobacco (chewing or dipping) can increase risk of oral cancers and other dental problems, even if they are not necessarily harmful to others in the vicinity as smoked forms of tobacco are. All tobacco users need to be encouraged, but not pestered or nagged, to quit smoking—I say it time and time again, but nobody will make a change they are not ready or willing to make! Consider enlisting the help of a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist in explaining the importance of quitting tobacco use, and ensure that the person is aware of the negative effects of secondhand smoke on health of others: smoking can not only cause lung disease like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, exposure can make COPD symptoms worse—just like it can make symptoms of asthma or cystic fibrosis worse. Cigarette smoke exposure can also negatively affect normal development in children, even if they do not have lung disease.
Wrap up May on a positive note: May 31st is World No Tobacco Day, and the culmination of both Asthma and Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month—both conditions can be negatively impacted by smoked tobacco, first, second or third (particles lingering on clothing or furniture, etc.) hand. Share this post with others over the next few days—and be kind to your lungs and those of people around you!