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World No Tobacco Day-No Smoking? A big reason to support!

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On this World No Tobacco Day (May 31st), the theme of the World Health Organization (WHO) is “Commitment to Quit”.

Dr. Dharav Shah and Dr. Pooja Patwardhan

The Cochrane Review is considered by the medical community to be a reliable source of evidence. A recent Cochrane review by British researchers looked at evidence published worldwide about what happens to mental health when you quit smoking. This review of 102 research studies, including data on the experience of 1,69,500 people, found that smoking cessation reduced the anxiety and depression experienced by humans, and the magnitude (effect) of this change was similar to that of antidepressants. I concluded that there is!

In addition, those who quit smoking showed greater improvement on measures of stress, positive effects, and psychological quality of life compared to those who continued to smoke. Many smokers are worried that if they quit smoking, they will lose their circle and become lonely. Therefore, this review also included an assessment of the impact on social quality of life, including measures such as social satisfaction, interpersonal relationships, isolation, and loneliness. According to the evidence reviewed, those who quit smoking had no decline in their social well-being. In fact, some studies have also seen slight improvements in social welfare.

This news is no longer timely. On this World No Tobacco Day (May 31st), the theme of the World Health Organization (WHO) is “Commitment to Quit”.

Good news for smokers who may not currently be facing anxiety or stress. Five studies (including 10978) found that those who quit smoking had fewer new cases of anxiety and depression than those who continued to smoke.

There is a belief among people dealing with mental illness and some health professionals that smoking cessation can exacerbate symptoms because patients smoke to combat their mental illness. As a result, some mental health professionals are less enthusiastic about encouraging patients to quit smoking. This is of particular concern because people with severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, die on average about 20 years earlier than those without them. And their high smoking rate is one of the most important modifiable risk factors that contribute to this health inequality.

This review also includes 23 studies conducted in people with mental illness. The positive effects of smoking cessation on mental health were also observed in this subpopulation. And the effect size was similar to that seen in the general population. Based on all this evidence, smokers, including those with mental illness, can rest assured that quitting smoking will not make them feel sick. Stopping the use of tobacco will actually improve it. The stress relief experienced by smoking is only a moment. Like other addictions, tobacco only worsens emotional well-being in the long run.

Another benefit of quitting smoking is that it can add many years to your life. Many Indians may consider smoking and chewing tobacco to be relatively harmless addictions, but they actually kill more than alcohol. Globally, alcohol causes about 30,00,000 deaths annually, and tobacco causes about 80,00,000 deaths. Adult males over the age of 30 account for 32% of deaths from cancer, 16% from heart attacks, 10% from stroke, 9% from tuberculosis, and 14% from other lung infections. Stopping tobacco will help bring the lost year back to life!

Lack of awareness of these facts helps maintain the popularity of tobacco use in our society. It is our joint responsibility to inform everyone in society of this evidence and empower them to make healthy choices. Another reason people don’t quit is the failed attempts of the past and the belief that they can’t quit as a result. Therefore, it is important to give them the hope that they can quit. Currently, there is strong evidence that with the help of counseling and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products such as nicotine gum / patches, or with a prescription drug called bupropion, the chances of success are doubled. Smoking cessation rates triple while using a drug called varenicline or while using the NRT (patch + gum) combination.

Many are still afraid to use NRT. Nicotine is an addictive component of tobacco, but the main components that cause harmful effects on the body are formed by tobacco burning (smoke in the case of tobacco and beedi) and toxic additives and nitrosamine. Tobacco (for oral smokeless tobacco products such as Gutuka and Zarda) that helps to understand that. NRT has been used for 30 years and has been found to be a drug with an excellent safety profile. It helps manage cravings and overcome withdrawal symptoms. WHO includes NRT in its recommended list of essential medicines. In countries such as the United Kingdom, long-term use of NRT is supported if there is a risk of returning to smoking if you stop using NRT.

In summary, there is clear evidence that tobacco is detrimental to your physical and mental health. Smoking damages the lungs and respiratory tract, harms the immune system, and reduces the ability to fight infections. Smokers are generally at high risk of respiratory infections, and in the days of Covid-19, it is important for all of us to do everything to protect lung health and boost immunity. Therefore, use cigarettes pushed through advertising campaigns and don’t succumb to false messages of pressure or success and happiness from your peers. You can confidently trust your decision not to experiment with tobacco use. And for those who are already addicted, there are good reasons to cheer them up. Seeking expert support and available proven forms of nicotine replacement products and drugs can help you quit successfully. So, on this May 31, 2021 World No Tobacco Day opportunity, “promise to quit” and move towards a healthier and longer life!

(Author – Dr. Dharav Shah is a NIMHANS trained psychiatrist and senior consultant at CHRE. He is an addiction treatment expert and Dr. Pooja Patwardhan is a British and Indian doctor and health. He is a medical director at the Center for Research and Education (CHRE). Cancer prevention and quitting specialists. This article is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a specialist and medical professional before starting treatment or medication. The expressed views are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)

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