Smokers Fail To Heed The Warning

29 May 2012: Smoking is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs and despite the risks to one’s health being widely known, every year thousands more people take up the habit. Research by the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) has shown that 25 000 people die annually in South Africa from smoking-related illnesses.

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day on the 31st of May 2012, Graham Anderson, Principal Officer at Profmed, the medical scheme that caters exclusively for graduate professionals, says that it is important to regularly highlight the health implications to warn potential new smokers. “It is imperative that we raise awareness about smoking and its associated risks. The World Health Organisation has estimated that every year, between 80 000 and 100 000 children take up smoking, a worrying statistic given the long term health risks.”

He says smokers should also keep in mind the danger that they pose to those around them. “Second hand smoking can cause as many diseases as first hand, including cancer, long term respiratory diseases and heart disease. Children who inhale second hand smoke are also more likely to contract bronchitis and pneumonia.”

“It is easy to list all of the health reasons for giving up smoking but the reality is that this is often not sufficient enough an incentive to prevent someone from starting again. As a result, it is important to remember the financial incentives. A smoker that spends R30 a day on the habit will save more than R10 000 a year by quitting and R100 000 over ten years.”

“In addition, one should also consider the financial impact on their financial services products. Smokers pay a higher premium for their life insurance – as they are more at risk of contracting a disease – as well as paying more for life insurance as the increased risk of illness means they are more likely to suffer an early death.”

Anderson says that while quitting smoking can prove extremely difficult, it is an achievable goal. “As many former smokers know, quitting is one of the hardest experiences they will ever undertake, with only a third of people who do so proving successful. However, these people should keep in mind that the benefits are both immediate as well as long-term.”

“Within a year the excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke drops to less than half that of a smoker; and within 5 to 15 years the risk of stroke declines to that of a non-smoker.”

Below, Anderson provides some tips to help smokers who have decided to break the habit:

  • Be fully committed to the cause and remind yourself daily why you have quit
  • Draw up a plan and stick to it – and ensure this plan has a reward system in place for certain milestones
  • Replace negative traits with positives, i.e. eat an apple or take a short walk instead of your regular smoke break.
  • Don’t give up. If you do happen to smoke, try again
  • Remain positive – the first week is the hardest.