Giving up cigarettes is life-changing and now is an ideal time to quit for good, says the Australian Medical Association (AMA).
AMA president, professor Brian Owler, says that although quitting smoking is not easy, the enormous health benefits and the financial savings made the effort well worthwhile.
“If you are a smoker, there is nothing more effective you can do to improve your health than to quit smoking,” says Owler.
“Every time you light up, you are damaging your own health as well as the health of those around you. A recent large-scale Australian study found that two-thirds of smokers will die because of their habit. There is no safe level of smoking.”
Fortunately, Aussies are heeding the health message. There has been a sustained, decades’ long decline in the proportion of Australians who smoke. By 2014-15, just 14.5% of adults (2.6 million people) smoked daily, down from almost 24% 20 years ago.
Despite this, it is still a major cause of deaths. Smoking contributes to more deaths and hospitalisations than drugs and alcohol combined, and accounts for 13% of cancers, including more than 80% of lung cancers.
However, Owler is adamant that it is never too late to quit, with health benefits beginning to occur almost immediately.
“It only takes a few days after quitting for nicotine to be cleared from the system, the heart rate to normalise, and blood pressure to stabilise. Within 3-6 months, blood flow to the extremities improves, the immune system functions more effectively, and wounds heal better.”
Owler says that quitting smoking not only improved health, but it left more money in the pocket.
“Someone who smoked 20 cigarettes a day will save about $6570 a year from giving up the habit. That’s a major saving,” he says
He applauds those who were committed to making sure 2016 was the year they gave up smoking, and said those making the move to quit could call on a wide range of products and services to help them through such a challenging process.
“Many smokers want to quit, but the highly addictive nature of nicotine can make it an enormously daunting undertaking,” he says..
“But there is lots of advice and support on hand”. He says the local GP is a good source of advice, plus there are many over-the-counter NRT products accessible.
“In addition, there are a growing number of websites, apps, and text messaging services designed to help quitting smokers get through the tough times and stay the path to a healthier life.
“Make 2016 the year that you set course on a healthy, smoke-free life,” Owler says.
The AMA has released an updated Position Statement on Tobacco Smoking and E-cigarettes that can be viewed at: https://ama.com.au/position-statement/tobacco-smoking-and-e-cigarettes-2015