Canterbury smokers are being called to action to quit for the sake of their family and protect them from the dangers of second hand smoke.
What better time to do it than on World Smokefree Day tomorrow – Tuesday May 31.
The World Health Organization says tobacco kills up to half of its users – or about six million people worldwide each year. Globally 600,000 are killed by passive (second hand) smoke. In New Zealand 5000 people a year die from smoking or second hand smoking – about 500 of those deaths are in people inhaling other people’s smoke. Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says many of those affected by passive smoking are children.
“Second-hand smoke can result in a child experiencing serious respiratory infections, asthma, behavioural and learning difficulties and in the worst case scenario cot death,” Dr Humphrey says.
The health costs of smoking are about $2 billion per year, despite the revenue from tobacco tax collecting only $1 billion.
“We all pay for smoking related diseases. The tragedies borne by families of people with smoking related diseases are enormous: strokes, heart attacks, chronic respiratory disorders, lung cancer and many other cancers,” Dr Humphrey says.
“Overall, one in two people who smoke will die of a smoking related illness and the life expectancy of smokers is 11 years less than non-smokers. Smoking is also a significant contributor to the difference in life expectancy between Maori and Non-Maori.”
According to the last Census, the smoking rate in New Zealand is 15.1 percent. Canterbury’s is 14 percent, which means there are about 62,000 smokers in the Canterbury area and about 80 percent of smokers regret starting smoking, while 65 percent have tried to quit in the past five years.
“Most smokers want to quit, and there are immediate and long-term health benefits for those who do,” Dr Humphrey says.
“The risk of premature death from smoking decreases soon after someone quits smoking and continues to do so for at least 10 to 15 years.”
Dr Humphrey says another massive incentive to quitting is how much money you save if you stop.
“We are not talking small amounts here – someone smoking a pack a day spends about $160 a week on cigarettes, which is nearly $8,500 each year. With the money saved from stopping smoking you could go on holiday, buy a car, or put it towards your mortgage.
“In four years’ time, tax increases will put the price up to around $30 a pack, so the saving will be further increased.”
Help for quitting can be found locally through www.smokefreecanterbury.org.nz and nationally via Quitline 0800 778 778.
New Zealand has a goal of being Smokefree by 2025.
The objectives of World Smokefree Day in New Zealand are:
Raising awareness and contributing to the achievement of the Smokefree 2025 goal.
Enabling better collaboration, planning and coordination of work within regions and across the country.
Raising awareness of the smokefree kaupapa with the underlying objectives of reducing exposure to second-hand smoke and increasing quit attempts.
Enabling continuity and consistency of messaging and creative within regions and across the country.
Building on and complementing current work in tobacco control.
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