Thursday August 21, 2014

EDITORIAL - A reminder to butt out


It surprises that here we are in 2014 and we are still having to promote the idea of not smoking.

Yes the number of smokers have declined over the years, but there are still far more people puffing away than common sense would suggest there should be.

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.

Whether looking at national percentages, or those locally, when you factor in a bit of statistical variance, you are still left with one-in-five people smoking.

The question quickly becomes one of why do people continue to smoke?

Society has evolved to the point where smoking is not seen as acceptable by most people in most circumstances.

Billboards no longer show smiling cowboys with a cigarette in the mouth. Films rarely show the stars happily smoking away.

Governments seem on side.

The City of Yorkton moved to make workplaces smoke free earlier than many municipalities in the province, and of course a province-wide ban on smoking in workplaces followed.

Such bans are now prevalent in many countries around the world as governments recognize the threat second-hand smoke can have on non-smokers. Such bans are really about public safety.

In our local area the Sunrise Health Region moved last year to make all its facilities and grounds smoke free.

It was not a popular decision with many staff who still smoke, nor with patients entering hospitals in the Region.

But it is a decision which makes sense from the perspective of health care professionals recognizing the impact of smoking on health. If the health system is dedicated to preventing health issues, efforts to stop people from smoking must be near the top of the list of initiatives.

It would be easy to fill the space here with health statistics regarding the negative impact smoking has on heart and lung health, and as a one of the causes of cancers, but we have all heard, or read the stats before.

It comes down to a decision each person has to make to live a healthier life. One step for smokers is to butt out.

Certainly smoking is not our only personal health issue, inactivity, being overweight, and stress being others of note, but smoking is one where the solution is obvious, if not easy, to butt out.

That is where National Non-Smoking Week is a good thing. The week, one of the longest running and most important events in Canada’s ongoing public health education efforts, focuses attention on the issue. It is a week where awareness of the health risks of smoking are emphasized again, and hopefully a few more people each year will take their last drag and by so doing improve their chances for a healthier life.



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