Every May 31, the World Health Organization observes and celebrates World No Tobacco Day to shine a spotlight on the dangers of tobacco use. This year, the WHO is calling on countries around the world to embrace plain packaging on tobacco products, which would, among other things, limit the use of packaging as advertising and emphasize health warnings and labels.
The WHO has made progress in educating the world on the harmful effects of tobacco and, in turn, reducing the number of tobacco related deaths. Many governments and organizations across the United States are creating policies to limit where, when, and how tobacco, particularly cigarettes, can be used in public spaces due to rising awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke. In fact, in 2014 the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia implemented a policy making all of their campuses, including Valdosta State University’s, tobacco and smoke free.
In light of World No Tobacco Day, here are a few facts and figures regarding tobacco, its costs, and tips to quit.
Chemicals Found in Tobacco smoke:
- butane (lighter fluid, gasoline)
- methanol (fuel, plastic)
- arsenic (poison)
- ammonia (detergent, fertilizer)
- carbon monoxide (car exhaust)
Illness Caused by Tobacco Use:
- cancer (esophagus, lungs, stomach, pancreas, mouth, cervix, and bladder)
- coronary heart disease
- erectile dysfunction
Death Caused by Tobacco Use:
- Cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke kill more than 480,000 people per year in the US alone. Around the world, tobacco use kills roughly 6 million people per year.
The Cost of Smoking:
- In Georgia, one pack of cigarettes, on average, costs $5-$6. A pack-a-day smoker will spend $1,825-$2,190 on cigarettes over the course of one year and $27,375-$32,850 over 15 years. For those who smoke two packs a day, that number jumps to $3,650-$4,380 per year and $54,750-$65,700 over 15 years.
Tips for Quitting:
- Talk to your doctor.
- Smokers who speak to their physicians about quitting greatly increase their chances of success.
- Set a quit date.
- Remove all tobacco products (including smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and vaporizers) from your home, car, and workplace.
- Easy access to tobacco increases temptation and makes quitting harder.
- Ask those who still smoke to not do so around you.
- Smoking is a social habit. Hanging around smokers while they smoke increases temptation and makes quitting harder.
- Anticipate setbacks or challenges.
- Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include headaches, increased appetite, coughing, and cravings. Hydrating, exercising, eating well, and resting/sleeping will help to reduce or alleviate those symptoms.
By Anna Limoges
Health & Life May/June 2016