Tobacco Harm Reduction-Be The Positive Change
As Carl Jung put it succinctly, "Every form of addiction is bad." This is especially true when one is addicted to smoking. As much as I despise the idea of someone puffing next to me, we all are aware that to cut down on the habit is difficult, let alone totally quitting smoking 100%. Do not get me wrong. I am not condoning smoking but if we cannot stop smokers from discontinuing tobacco use altogether, we could at least try the alternatives. Have you heard of the Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) initiative?
The Importance of Tobacco Harm Reduction Initiative
For the uninitiated, Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) is the brainchild of Harm Awareness Association (HAA) which aims to help smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit, to reduce potential harms and risks. This initiative has brilliantly laid out numerous risk-reducing alternatives and one of the most pragmatic ones has got to be electronic cigarettes. Compared to the smoking of traditional cigarettes, switching to electronic cigarettes is undeniably the lesser evil.
Smoking endangers not only the lives of the smokers but also those around them? It is a fact that tobacco use is one of the major causes of preventable and premature death diseases worldwide. According to a report by World Health Organization (WHO), a mind-boggling 8 million people around the world die from smoking every year. One out of five deaths is related to smoking, due to conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis and lung cancer just to name a few. Of the number of deaths from heart attacks, 40% is caused by smoking. In our country, the Malaysia Ministry of Health declares that annually at least 20,000 Malaysians die as a result of direct tobacco use, which is a staggering number!
It has also become increasingly clear that second-hand smoke will also cause non-smokers to have heart ailments and terminal diseases such as cancer. For the record, the U. S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states in its report that second-hand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and 70 of them are carcinogenic or cancer-causing. Facts speak for themselves and obviously smoking is harmful and fatal not only to the smokers themselves but also to those innocent bystanders. Clearly, unnecessary and preventable deaths can be stopped through this Tobacco Harm Reduction initiative. All smokers should come to their senses and not let their precious family members pay the price for their mistakes.
3 Proven Methods To Reduce Tobacco Harm and Quit Smoking
1. Switch to Electronic Cigarette
Before we proceed, please be clear that electronic cigarette is not the same as vaping. Switching to electronic cigarettes is definitely less detrimental to your health compared to smoking a traditional cigarette. Unlike smoking, electronic cigarettes will not result in combustion, fire, ash or smoke. That is why a lot of smokers should switch to electronic cigarettes as it is the less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes.
In other words, an electronic cigarette is a device that heats the tobacco instead of burning it. It has been designed to intelligently heat the tobacco at the right temperature range of not more than 300℃ to release the nicotine. However, extensive research conducted by PMI Science shows that when tobacco is burned as in traditional smoking, its temperature will peak at 800℃. Since no burning is involved for an electronic cigarette, there is no combustion that will result in the creation of ash and smoke which annoy us and harm our health.
The same research has also shown that by using a heated tobacco product such as an electronic cigarette, harmful chemicals released can be reduced by a staggering 95% compared to the traditional cigarette smoke! Once you switch to electronic cigarettes, it means you are not contributing to the conjuring of second-hand smoke. Essentially it means that exposure to harmful chemicals can be drastically reduced as well for smokers and of course non-smokers.
2. Opt for Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Smokers who want to go one-step further to kick their bad habit can actually opt for Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). Studies from the American Cancer Society (ACS) have shown that NRT can increase your chances of quitting smoking. Under the expert guidance of a qualified doctor, smokers can rely on nicotine lozenges, gum and even nasal sprays to help them curb their nicotine cravings. On top of that, nicotine patches could also be used to complement the proven Nicotine Replacement Therapy prescribed by the doctor.
Bear in mind that chain smokers are addicted to tobacco due to nicotine. It is important for me to point out that nicotine is not the main cause of smoke-related diseases like lung cancer and heart diseases. They are actually caused by inhalation of harmful compounds, mainly coming from the smoke when tobacco is burned. Therefore, it is highly recommended for smokers to try Nicotine Replacement Therapy to help them quit smoking.
3. Join Support Groups For Smokers
Besides switching to other alternatives such as electronic cigarettes and nicotine patches, smokers who are determined to cease smoking can also rely on the aid of support groups. In such groups, smokers can get the encouragement and motivation needed to nudge them in the right direction. Yes, there are such support groups for smokers in Malaysia that are accessible to everyone who needs help.
- JomQuit by Ministry of Health Malaysia
- Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) Quit Smoking Clinic
- National Cancer Society Quit Smoking Clinic
- Penang Adventist Hospital Breathe Free Support Group
By joining such support groups, smokers can increase their chances of ditching their bad habit. Since other like-minded smokers are in the same group, smokers can express their feelings freely with those who understand them, hence they will not feel isolated. There are also professionals such as doctors who can provide useful, proven tips on how smokers can confidently quit smoking.
Apart from that, the presence of those who have successfully quit smoking can spur smokers to do the same. These former smokers will share their valuable experiences and help smokers to improve their own coping skills. When you join such a group with people who have empathy for you, smokers can easily stay on the right track to switch to the available alternatives and eventually stop smoking for good.
Let's Create a Smoke-Free Environment
Are you aware that smoking cigarettes deprive non-smokers of a healthy environment? Non-smokers deserve the right to a smoke-free environment. The air that we breathe in is the same no matter where we go. Hence, regardless of where the smoking takes place, the awful stench of burnt tobacco will still permeate the common air that we inhale into our lungs. No one should be unfairly subjected to the harmful effects of passive smoke. Is it morally right to indulge in smoking at the expense of others? So instead of lighting up your cigarette to gratify your nicotine addiction, try other alternatives that will not affect the wellbeing of those around you.
You Have a Choice
Orlando Aloysius said it best, "An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it." Do your best to quit smoking cigarettes right now before it is too late. Be the positive change by switching to electronic cigarette or opting for Nicotine Replacement Therapy. I understand that it is not easy to quit smoking altogether, but now that you know there are other risk-reducing alternatives, make the right choice to protect yourself and those around you. Do not let your loved ones pay the ultimate, fatal price for the mistake that you choose to make.
Stop living on borrowed time by switching to other available alternatives for your smoking habit. No man is rich enough to buy back his past or in this case health. Give yourself new lease of life by doing your best to quit smoking or at least reduce the potential harms and risks that traditional tobacco use would bring. Let us be more selfless to build a cleaner and healthier Malaysia. Remember that you always have a choice.
Be part of the #TobaccoHarmReduction movement. To find out more, head over to HAA's official website: https://haaahub.com.my