March 10th will celebrate National No Smoking Day, an annual national health campaign that started in 1984 and encourages smokers to quit. Over the years, it has seen several changes to its organising body and is now in the hands of NHS Smoke Free.
For the NHS, everyday is a day to encourage people to improve their health by quitting smoking. They do this through the provision of their Smokefree App, information on their website and their stop smoking support services (Quit smoking – Better Heath – NHS (www.nhs.uk). Even during COVID, the NHS have not forgotten key messages and support needed in other public health areas, including Smoking. Smokers are at a higher risk of developing COVID (a contagions viral respiratory infection) and experiencing more severe symptoms than non-smokers. This is due to smokers having a lot of hand to mouth contact, toxins in smoke suppressing their immunity and them already being prone to lung infections.
This year has been tough on everyone with the pressures of COVID, lockdown, lost jobs or changing to the way we study or work. For some, their way of dealing with stress has been turning to tobacco. This behaviour not only impacts the smokers’ health but also those around them, especially when spending more time at home.
Key Messages that we would like to support the NHS Smoke Free in sharing are:
- There is support to help you quit, even during the lockdown/pandemic. NHS Smoke Free Quit smoking – Better Heath – NHS (www.nhs.uk) gives plenty of information and advice. It will also link you to their support app and signpost you to your nearest stop smoking service.
- It’s never too late to quit! Smoking can cause damage to your body; by quitting, your health will start to improve.
- Smoking can impact your immunity, leading to infections – By quitting, you will give your body a better chance in fighting infection and disease.
- Second-hand smoke – puts the health of other people at risk. Second hand smoke (white-ribbon.org.uk)
- Quit Smoking and breath – Our Lungs are important in getting essential oxygen to other parts of the body. When you quit smoking, the lungs begin to repair; within 48 hours of quitting they begin to remove mucus. Within 72 hours, the bronchial tubes relax and breathing becomes easier. Over the course of 3-9 months, symptoms such as coughing, wheezing or other breathing problems will reduce, improving lung function.
- Smoking involves a lot of hand to mouth contact increasing the risk of Covid and other viral infections. It’s important to follow hand washing guidelines.
- Sharing shisha pipes, cigarettes and vapes will put you at risk of viral infections. The NHS advise people not to share these.
- Do you understand your addiction? Smoking is an addictive behaviour. Tobacco contains a stimulant known as Nicotine. People sometimes go ahead with their quitting journey alone without help or advice and fail. Knowing how much nicotine your body has been receiving may help your quitting journey when using NRT products because they come in different levels. See our NRT leaflet (Carbon Monoxide and NRT (white-ribbon.org.uk). Another source of help for a quitting smoker is using E-cigarettes or vapes. These are battery powered devices that delivers nicotine as a vapour which is then inhaled (E-cigarettes and Shisha (white-ribbon.org.uk)
- The key message from the NHS Smoke Free website – ‘Better Health Let’s Do This’, is a motivational message to smokers wanting to change their lifestyle. The information on their website reminds people it can be a joint effort, with smokers receiving help from the NHS and those around them to quit. It’s important for family members to believe in the quitter to help them in their quitting journey.
This year, No Smoking Day will be very different for us at the White Ribbon. During March, we are usually busy promoting No Smoking Day by delivering health events within the West Midlands; with plenty of opportunities to reach out to the community with essential key messages and advice. Sadly, COVID has put a hold on these for now, but we are able to support the campaign through our social media accounts and will be posting throughout the day and week promoting the event and signposting smokers to essential services.
We have information and free downloadable resources (Tobacco Leaflet Downloads – White Ribbon (white-ribbon.org.uk) , including our No Smoking Day Poster (3-March-No-Smoking-Day-2019-20-poster.png (3508×2480) (white-ribbon.org.uk) on our website.