Thursday August 21, 2014

Smoking still an issue for too many

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It is National Non-Smoking Week and that makes it an ideal time to start the process of stopping smoking said Dr. Mandiangu Nsungu, Medical Health Officer with Sunrise Health Region.

When it comes to smoking people in the local health region light up more than most.

The Health Status Report for the Sunrise Health Region shows that in the area of smoking SHR is bucking the national trend which has seen a decrease in smoking, with a local increase, said Nsungu, with 2010 numbers at 29.4 per cent compared to 20.8 per cent nationally.

“In our region the percentage is a bit higher than Canada in general, and for Saskatchewan,” he said, adding in general terms smoking rates have been generally trending lower across the country.

“You see in the Sunrise Health Region those rates were not coming down.”

Nsungu did add the numbers from 2003 to 2010 in the local region showed the greatest divergence from national trends.

“If you look at it the last few years the trend is a bit different, so that’s encouraging,” he said.

When asked why more people in the SHR appear to smoke than the provincial and national averages, Nsungu said the details behind the numbers have not been investigated to determine reasons.

“Let’s not forget the survey is not done on a whole population,” said Nsungu, adding that means interpreting the details of the statistics difficult. “You can have variation year-to-year.”

Nsungu said ultimately the variance with Canada and Saskatchewan may not be statistically significant, but it is still something the Health Region must monitor closely.

“Even if the difference is not significant year-to-year, you can’t just ignore it. It’s a flag,” he said.

Regardless of the exact numbers, it still equates to one-in-five people in the SHR smoke.

That is where a week like National Non-Smoking Week can help, said Nsungu.

“Like any other specific week on a specific topic, it does help with awareness,” he said.

“There will be a focus on it from media.”

With awareness people can begin the process of stopping smoking, offered Nsungu.

“It can attract attention to at least contemplating quitting smoking,” he said.

Nsungu said quitting is a process, adding “the process has many stages starting with contemplation.”

Once a person has decided it’s time to quit, Nsungu said the next best step is to talk to their physician who can help determine which support method to stop smoking is best.

Nsungu said people should also realize it is not easy to quit, adding the people who have been successful have often made multiple attempts before being successful.

“If you do try two or three times and it doesn’t work, don’t think it’s a reason to be discouraged,” he said. “The most important thing is to get into the process.”

Nsungu likened the process to a journey “you might get a little bit of the path, you might fall” but with support from health professionals and society, “you can get back on track,” and find your way to success.

National Non-Smoking Week is one of the longest running and most important events in Canada’s ongoing public health education efforts. It was established in 1977 by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control.

National Non-Smoking Week aims to:

• educate Canadians about the dangers of smoking

• prevent people who do not smoke from beginning to smoke and becoming addicted to tobacco

• help people quit smoking

• promote the right of individuals to breathe air unpolluted by tobacco smoke

• denormalize the tobacco industry, tobacco industry marketing practices, tobacco products, and tobacco use

• assist in the attainment of a smoke-free society in Canada

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