Raising awareness of the health risks associated with smoking Posted by Justine Clarabut on 19 February, 2019

No Smoking Day is on 13th March this year and is a National Awareness Day to help smokers quit and to raise awareness of the health risks associated with smoking.

Research shows that smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, can cause many diseases, and overall, affects the health of smokers.  Smoking cigarettes is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK; with some illnesses causing irreversible long-term damage. According to the British Heart Foundation, smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with people who have never smoked.  And the NHS reports that around 70% of cases of lung cancer is caused by smoking.

Smoking damages your lungs and is one of the main causes of COPD, a progressive disease of the airways characterised by a gradual loss of lung function. COPD can cause other respiratory complications such as bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia.  Smoking can also contribute to and prolong respiratory conditions such as asthma, respiritory tract infections and the common cold.

And it is not just smokers that are at risk; passive smokers, when you regularly inhale smoke from a cigarette being smoked by someone else, also increases your risk of the same health conditions as smokers.  Children and babies are particularly vulnerable to secondhand smoke.

So how can we raise awareness of the damage that smoking can cause to our bodies?

Awareness days highlight crucial information encompassing key health issues and give us the momentum to make lifestyle changes.  No Smoking Day is a great opportunity to bring attention to the dangers associated with smoking.  Health and wellbeing initiatives encourage good health practices and will benefit businesses and organisations by reducing levels of absenteeism, increasing productivity levels and cutting costs associated with sickness absence.  For example, holding a health screening day or wellbeing workshops will increase knowledge around fundamental health issues and encourage individuals to look at their own health and lifestyle.

Lung Health Screening

Screening employees within your workplace help to identify risks to health caused by smoking.  Carbon monoxide affects the lungs, heart and blood vessels and in pregnant women reduces the oxygen supply to the foetus. Using a Smokerlyzer® Monitor, the amount of carbon monoxide in your lungs and blood is instantly and non-invasively measured .  It provides a low cost and clinically proven way to determine carbon monoxide levels, motivating people to quit smoking and stay smoke free for good.

In addition to carbon monoxide testing, early signs of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can be detected by measuring an individual’s lung age.  Height, age and gender are entered into a hand held monitor which calculates a predicted value. The monitor then measures the forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration as a percentage of this predicted value.  From this, the individual’s equivalent lung age is calculated – a heavy smoker’s result will be a lung age that is considerably older than their chronological age.

Even if you are not a smoker, or exposed to passive smoking, some lung health problems can be caused by pollution or in some cases genetics.

The most obvious and effective way for smokers to reduce their risk of serious illness and poor health, is to stop smoking completely.   There are many websites and offer help and advice to quit smoking;  visit the NHS website and Cancer Research for more information.

 

References and further information

How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You.
https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/what-are-the-health-risks-of-smoking/

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm