Young people all around Australia are being asked to quit smoking today, on National Youth Tobacco Free Day. Smoking habits can start in the early teens, so refusing to take up the habit before it develops is the key.
"Tobacco smoking is responsible for the premature death of about 19,000 Australians each year. Today is your chance to decide you don’t want to become a statistic," said Dr Kelly Seach, RACGP Registrar Representative.
"Much better than quitting smoking, is to stay away from it all together. Lung cancer is not the only risk associated with cigarettes – smoking can literally steal your youth. It can have an impact on your eyesight, your small intestine, cause premature facial wrinkling and even impotence.
"For young people who smoke, today is all about giving you the support you need to quit. It is not easy but there are many support resources that can help you to breathe easier. One of the best supports is your local GP.
"In the battle to beat cigarettes, GPs and members of our practice teams, provide much more than simple advice. Research shows that advising smokers to quit is not enough to get them over the finish line.
"GPs can support patients to move to alternate sources of nicotine, such as patches or gum, to help to manage cravings. Evidence shows all forms of nicotine replacement therapy, including patches, nasal sprays, inhalers, lozenges, sublingual tablets and gum are effective in helping smokers to quit. We know these therapies nearly double the rate of quitting after 12 months compared with placebos.
"Quitting can deliver real health benefits very quickly. Within 12 hours, all the nicotine will metabolise, and after 24 hours blood carbon monoxide levels will drop significantly. After five days, your sense of smell and taste will improve, and after six weeks, the risk of wound infection after surgery is reduced.
"The benefits continue after one year when the risk of coronary heart disease is halved compared with continuing smokers, and after 10 years the risk of lung cancer is also half that of continuing smokers. After 10 to 15 years, the all-cause mortality in former smokers is at the same level as people who have never smoked. There is also an immediate benefit for people with respiratory disease in the rate of loss of functioning lung tissue.
"Kicking the habit today is the best way to ensure that you stay healthy – not only on youth, but for the rest of your life."
(Source: Royal Australian College of General Practitioners: March 2008)