One of the UK’s best health campaigns Stoptober has now become an annual event throughout the month of October and since 2012, smokers have been invited to rise to the challenge of stopping tobacco use for the entire month.
Are we as friends, family and co-workers ready to support people willing to take up this challenge?
A friend told me a tale today about a couple that are both secret smokers. Neither wants the other to know they smoke so both go to great lengths to conceal their guilty secret. Friends privy to the knowledge that both smoke look on in bemusement.
It got me thinking – have our well-intentioned moves to reduce passive smoking alienated smokers so much that they now feel like social lepers, unable to even confide in loved ones about smoking?
Quitting tobacco is tough. Experts say nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine, so tobacco users appreciate as much positive support as possible. Smokers probably become addicted after their first few cigarettes, in children it can be as little as one cigarette.
So, considering society tolerated cigarette advertising and even the sale of cigarettes for so long, do we not owe it to smokers to get right behind stop smoking campaigns and champion those smokers who do manage to quit?
Let’s liken it to people who decide to run a marathon. As friends, we admire and fully back their mental and physical preparation; we encourage them to keep going when the training gets tough and then revel in seeing their exhilaration of having set themselves a challenge and conquering it. Is this not a similar journey that smokers go on when they quit?
Aside from the more obvious health improvements quitters can expect, it should also be pointed out to them that it’s good news from a dental perspective too.
Smokers, who are more likely to have periodontal (gum) disease than non-smokers, will find that their prospects for keeping their teeth improve enormously. Also, people who are thinking about having dental implants will find implantologists more willing to consider implant placement on a non-smoker. Smoking can have a devastating effect on both implants and periodontal disease, but quitting and staying off cigarettes can alter these statistics drastically.
Stopping smoking permanently should be the ultimate aim for smokers. Smoking cessation experts say just one puff of a cigarette is enough to reignite the addiction and for a smoker to find themselves craving for as many cigarettes as they did in the first place, so be wary of well-meaning friends who offer you ‘just one’.
Smokers are four times more likely to quit and stay a quitter if they rely on the support of a GP or NHS smoke free advisor, as both behavioural support and pharmacological agents can be dispensed on prescription.
For more information on getting the help and support needed to quit smoking, you can visit the NHS Smoke Free website here.
About the author.
Jo qualified as a dental hygienist in Leeds in 1988 and currently works in general practice in Crewe. She is Mum to 2 teenage girls Amy and Sophie. In her spare time she enjoys modern jive dancing, playing her saxophone and watching rugby league.
In 2014 Jo was awarded The Dentistry Show’s ‘ Most Outstanding Team Member’, was highly commended at The Hygienist and Therapy Awards and in 2015 was voted ‘Dental Hygienist of the Year’ at the Dental Awards ceremony.