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This here is for smokers only

 This here is for smokers only (Photo: iStock)

Cigarette smoking remains a major cause of premature deaths worldwide. This is despite all the global anti-smoking efforts, which nevertheless have continued to gain traction.

In the Western world, about a quarter of deaths among middle-aged adults are attributed to smoking. The figures are hard to come by where we live, but with the observed high rates of smokers among young adults, we aren’t any better. A recently published study on the benefits of quitting smoking should be of interest to current smokers.

The main observation was that the excess deaths attributable to smoking over a lifetime could be reduced by 90% with cessation of smoking. The main diseases attributable to smoking are respiratory, cardiovascular and cancer. All those quitting the habit would be less predisposed to such diseases over time, eventually enjoying a reversal of premature mortality. Let’s look at further details of the said study.

Quitting smoking before the age of 40 appears to be the most beneficial. Those quitting at that point experience a reversal of the overall risk of premature death within three years. However, every age group benefits from cessation of smoking at any point.

The benefits are even better the more the cessation period is prolonged. So even those in more advanced age groups can benefit by stopping smoking. It is a case of better late than never, with the cessation gaining you more years of life.

The findings of this study should be good enough to encourage smokers to quit. But some are so addicted that they need additional help. There are enough resources out there dedicated to helping smokers. Look for healthcare providers with such services if you are struggling to quit.

There are plenty of nicotine alternatives, which have helped many. And in recent years, vaping has come into prominence as a healthier alternative. But as ongoing surveillance data shows, vaping isn’t completely safe either.

If nothing convinces you to stop smoking, then try and keep the habit to yourself. Don’t introduce the young ones to smoking at any point. Beware of passing your passive smoke to those near you.

Observe all the public signs about where you can smoke, and where you can’t. If you live with others in your house, don’t smoke indoors. This exposes other members of your family to the potential health hazards of inhaling passive smoke.

The human respiratory system was made to inhale clean air, and not cigarette smoke or any other toxic fumes. The mechanisms that link cigarette smoke with all sorts of diseases are plain and clear. Thus the simple act of not smoking cannot be overstated, for the sake of a healthy life. The saying that prevention is better than cure holds very true with smoking.

But adults do have a choice, and those choosing to continue smoking can only do so at their peril.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist.

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