I’m Proud to be a Quitter is No Smoking Day 2015’s slogan, endorsed by 4 quitter testimonials urging; “If at first you don’t succeed, give up again.”; “I still get out of breath. But now it’s because I run.”; “I wanted to stop looking like a smoker. So I stopped smoking.”; and “I wanted my kids to look up to me. And not through a cloud of smoke.”
GASP take a look at how local No Smoking Day campaign organisers can use the main slogan and the 4 testimonial straplines to promote No Smoking Day and encourage smokers to stop smoking.
- I’m Proud to be a Quitter. One of the overwhelming emotions that ex-smokers report when they finally quit smoking is pride. Stop smoking advisors can spend a lot of time warning smokers that stopping smoking will be hard. Maybe we should spend more time telling smokers how great it feels to stop smoking and how much it can boost a great sense of self-esteem and pride. No Smoking Day 2015, provides us with the perfect opportunity to invite ex-smokers to inspire current smokers to join them as ‘proud quitters’ using their own reasons for taking this life-changing step. I endorse this sense of pride wholeheartedly. Despite a gap of 36 years since I finally quit smoking after many attempts, I still rate it as one of my greatest achievements.
- “If at first you don’t succeed, give up again.” Even though two-thirds of smokers want to quit and try to quit, many fail to stop for good the first time. This does not mean they are unable to quit. Stopping smoking is a process and not a single event. It takes most smokers 2, 3, 4 or more attempts before they eventually stop smoking for good. The more times they try to quit, the better their chances of success. See a relapse as ‘practice’ for stopping smoking. It is important to help smokers learn something new each time they try to quit so that each time they try they are more likely to succeed. You can urge them to set a new quit date, maybe in a week or so. Learn from their mistakes by asking themselves ‘What caused me to slip up?’ Get them to think of ways you could have avoided smoking. Help them to work on their coping skills so they’re prepared next time they’re in the same situation. They need to get advice from a stop smoking advisor. Most of all they should stay positive. They’re learning how to quit cigarettes. They’ll be stronger next time because they’ll know what to look out for.
- “I still get out of breath. But now it’s because I run.” Smoking harms a person’s ability to live life to the full and to be physically fit and active. Smoking affects lung fitness, muscle strength and sleep patterns and makes it more difficult to lead a normal, active daily life. When a smoker inhales, the carbon monoxide in the tobacco smoke combines with the haemoglobin in the blood and this reduces the amount of oxygen supplying the heart and lungs and the rest of the body. But the great news is that the many of the effects of smoking can be reversed when a smoker stops smoking. Within 48 hours of quitting, carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body allowing more oxygen to feed the muscles and body organs and circulation will improve. Within weeks after quitting, lung fitness also improves. The cilia or short hair like structures in the lungs re-grow and clear out the particles and phlegm from the lungs and this will reduce the risk of coughs, colds and chest infections.
It has also been shown that physical activity helps smokers to quit. Keeping active helps concentration and relaxation and increases metabolism which helps to avoid weight gain. Any physical activity such as walking helps.
- “I wanted to stop looking like a smoker. So I stopped smoking.” Smoking can make a big difference to a smoker’s appearance as it reduces the blood flow to the skin and dries and damages it over time. Smokers can have about 10 times as many wrinkles as non-smokers, radiating out from the mouth and eyes. Smoking also stains teeth and fingers with yellowish-brown tar, makes eyes bloodshot and leaves the hair dull and lifeless. One study found that over 1 in 10 men and over 1 in 5 women acknowledged that the effect of smoking on their appearance was one of the factors that motivated them to quit. Stopping smoking will improve appearance. Wrinkling and aging of the skin will be reduced and teeth will be whiter and breath will smell fresher. The concern that many ‘quitters’ , particularly women, have is weight gain. Health professionals need to take this concern into consideration and offer advice on how to minimise weight gain when helping smokers to quit. Suggestions include; advice on choice of oral nicotine replacement products, healthy eating tips and increasing physical activity. But it is always worth emphasising the huge health benefits of quitting smoking when compared with a small amount of weight gain.
- “I wanted my kids to look up to me. And not through a cloud of smoke.” Parents who smoke put their children’s health at risk in two ways. Secondhand tobacco smoke contains irritants, toxic gases, cancer-causing agents and radioactive compounds. Children exposed to tobacco smoke in the homes or cars suffer from a number of health problems. These include irritation of the eyes, ears and nose, middle ear infections and chest infections, asthma attacks as well as development of asthma and a reduced lung function.
The second risk is that children from homes where parents or carers smoke are 90% more likely to start smoking themselves. The vast majority of parents do not want their children to smoke for obvious reasons. Fortunately, parents can take a number of effective actions to protect their children from starting to smoke. The most obvious is for the parent to quit smoking. When parents quit smoking, their children become less likely to start smoking and more likely to quit if they already smoke. Smokers should also share their struggles to quit with their children as young people underestimate how difficult it is to quit smoking. Continuing to try to quit, despite the difficulties, sends a strong anti-smoking message. It is very important to urge parents to keep their homes and cars smokefree. This not only protects them from secondhand smoke but also makes children less likely to smoke, and also gives a powerful statement that they believe smoking is undesirable.
If you are inspired to quit smoking in 2015, visit a community pharmacy to find out more about the free smoking cessation service available.