Friday, February 12, 2010

A Smokefree England?

I was delighted earlier this week to attend a ‘SMOKEFREE Solihull’ event along with about 100 other health and social care professionals along with representatives from various charitable organisations. I hope to remain involved in this brilliant project.

The event was organised to promote a Government Paper published on 1st February entitled:

“A Smokefree Future – A comprehensive Tobacco Control Strategy for England”

is a joint agency project aimed at raising awareness of the health dangers of smoking and encouraging people who smoke to quit. The progress is encouraging with Solihull much further ahead in such projects when compared with many parts of the UK.

Speaking personally, I smoked from age 16 until I finally quit about 7 years ago. Like most of my peers I gave up a few times but I always succumbed to the habit and returned to smoking time and time again. After almost 7 years I hope I have finally kicked the habit for good.

I have empathy for those who smoke and want to give up the habit. I also have great understanding and sympathy for those who just cannot quit. It is bloody hard work.

This question was asked from the audience to the health experts running the event;

“I know someone who smoked all their life and died at 87 years of age. How do you explain that?”

One of the Department of Health Team gave this brilliant answer;

"If everyone in this room was blindfolded and asked to cross the busiest motorway in England then some people would get to the other side."

My own view is that no one can surely argue against the ‘smoking kills’ argument – it does – end of story. I say let's just accept the overwhelming evidence.

Smoking will probably never be made illegal in the UK but things have moved on quickly over the last few years and we now have a smoking ban in pubs for instance – something I never thought would happen in my lifetime.

We surely owe it to our children and grandchildren to aim for a smoke free England.

(More about Smokefree initiatives can be seen here)


Marilyn Jess, DTM said...

Like it or not, smoking is an addiction. My Dad smoked until I was about 12, then quit after my brother was born. I have never tried smoking because my Dad did.

My husband smoked until I graduated with my MS in 1987. Best gift he's ever given to me, and himself.

Whatever it takes, people need to keep trying to beat back this beast. It robs folk of a quality life. Tobacco companies deliberately load their products with additives that increase the uptake of addictive substances in the lung.

It would be great if tobacco farmers were subsidized to grow something else--actually, I think they are in the USA!

JOHN O'LEARY said...

Hey Trevor, I was surprised to learn recently that there's a growing and vociferous conservative faction in the States that believes that the dangers of secondhand (or "passive" or "environmental") smoke are vastly exaggerated and that the scientific research that purports to confirm the dangers is flawed and incomplete. Conservative talk radio is really beating the drum on this. It's many of the same folks who deny anthropogenic climate change - except (it seems to me) that the case against smoking is simpler to make, because the same carcinogens in mainstream smoke are present in passive smoke. But I'm open to hearing the argument defending passive smoke if anyone out there wants to make it.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Marilyn - I agree - not only does it reduce quality of life - the evidence is it reduces life expectancy. I guess we all have choices but the evidence now cannot be denied - smoking will kill you.

Great that your husband quit - good on him!

Trevor Gay said...

John - The 'conservative faction' is probably more interested in the profits to be made from the tobacco industry would be my rather narrow and admittedly bias view :-)

Trevor Gay said...

John - have you read about Roy Castle - well known variety artist from England?

Roy Castle died a few years ago and blamed his lung cancer on years of performing in smoke filled nightclubs where he inhaled passive smoking from customers.

Castle himself never smoked. Since Roy Castle’s death his widow has campaigned about the dangers of passive smoking.

Regardless of whether there is unanimous agreement about the evidence one thing is certain John. It is horrible for those who do smoke to have to inhale the cigarette/cigar smoke of those people rude enough to smoke in the close proximity of non-smokers.

You can read more about Roy Castle HERE

JOHN O'LEARY said...

Thanks, Trevor. I have certainly heard of such stories - and they're quite believable. But I'd love to hear those on the other side argue their case (that the passive smoke dangers are hyped). On a related issue, I've heard that Native Americans used smoking in small doses as a medicinal remedy for some ailments - in addition to its ceremonial uses. But one would assume this was a cleaner product than the commercialized, chemicalized tobacco in use today, and was consumed sparingly.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi John - the silence from smokers on the issue of passive smoking is deafening - says it all don't you think?

Marilyn Jess, DTM said...

Hi John,

Someone wiser than me once said something to the effect of....

tobacco is the only product that when used as directed kills people.

Not literally true, but you get the idea. Passive, direct, doesn't matter. There is no amount of smoking that doesn't damage your body. In my work in healthcare I've seen tobacco rob more people of life than anything else.

Trevor Gay said...

"tobacco is the only product that when used as directed kills people."

Great line Marilyn - thank you - and one that is used over here on smoking kills advertisements and associated publicity material.

dannicash said...

It's easy asking people to stop smoking, but when you are a smoker then you will realise how hard to leave that habit, like me..

Actually, it is not like throwing away a piece of cloth. It's much more leaving behing your mind..

Most smokers realise the consequences, most of them aware of lung cancer, but leaving that habit is one of the hardest..

Philips Sonicare Toothbrush

Trevor Gay said...

dannicash - I was a smoker for over 30 years so I recognise the difficulty and I agree its hard work to quit.

But it is definitely the right thing to do I have no doubt.

That is not to under-estimate how difficult it is to kick the habit. It took me many attempts before I realised I wanted to live as long as possible and quitting smoking improved my odds - simple as that !

Thanks for your commnet

JOHN O'LEARY said...

I'm eternally grateful I never started smoking - except for some funny looking twigs I used to light up now and then. But tobacco is the real "killer weed."

Trevor Gay said...

You can actually REMEMBER what you smoked in the 60's John!!! - I am surprised my friend :-) ... Just kidding of course

Mark JF said...

I am planning never to smoke in the 60's. It's a daft habit to pick up, especially at that time of life!!!

Trevor Gay said...

I like it Mark :-)

That John O'Leary is a real one off - staring smoking in his 60's - whatever next? - he will try running for President in his 70's maybe :-)