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April - May 2007


Health

Quit smoking and don't get bowled over by stress

The Cricket World Cup is just around the corner and as any cricket fan knows, supporting your team can be a stressful time. The NHS Smokefree campaign is urging cricket fans to quit smoking in time for the first match on 13th March so that they can enjoy the tournament rather than worry about their teams dropped catches, missed wickets and ambitious run-rates.

Research has shown that the first thing smokers do when they are stressed is reach for a cigarette. What most smokers don’t know is that lighting up is the worst thing a smoker can do when they are stressed as smoking actually increases stress levels. Nicotine wears off quickly and the withdrawal symptoms can make people tense. All smoking actually does is calm nicotine cravings, the very symptom that smoking causes.

As well as relieving stress, giving up smoking has a financial gain. If a twenty-a-day smoker gave up smoking for the 48 days of the Cricket World Cup this spring they would already have saved £240 which would be half the cost of a ticket to the Caribbean2.

Nuzhat Fazal from the NHS Asian Tobacco Helpline said, “Quitting smoking is not easy, but at your local NHS Stop Smoking Service help and advice is available to help you beat the habit. Over the 51 matches of the cricket world cup there will probably be enough tension on the pitch without you adding to it from the stands or from behind your sofa with a cigarette. Whether your team wins or loses this spring, giving up smoking could be a lasting achievement.”

Did you know?

Smoking rates amongst Asian communities are often higher than the national average and this is particularly the case with the male population. 40% of Bangladeshi males, 20% of Indian males and 29% of Pakistani males are all addicted to smoking (Source: Health Survey for England, 2004).

Ethnic minorities have been shown to possess relatively poor knowledge concerning the link between cigarette smoking and disease and to be less likely to cite smoking as a health risk than the UK population as a whole - 22% of Bangladeshi men and 20% of Pakistani men believe smoking has ‘no effect’ on their current health, compared to 12% of the UK as a whole. (ASH)

Smoking is one of the major causes of Chronic Heart Disease and is a particular problem amongst South Asian Muslims. In fact, South Asians living in Britain are 50% more likely to die from the disease than the general population. 

Among some minority groups the risk of heart disease is particularly high due to the combination of smoking and the presence of other risk factors. For example, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities tend to eat fewer fruit and vegetables than other minority groups and also take less physical exercise.

Of men that have smoked regularly at some stage in their life in Britain, Pakistani and Bangladeshi men are the least likely groups of males to have successfully stopped smoking, with only one in five men who had ever smoked regularly having given up. (Health survey for England)

The number of Asian or Asian British people setting a quit date at local NHS Stop Smoking Services in 2004/5 was as follows (NHS Health and Social care Information Centre, Lifestyle Statistics):

        Males   Females Total  

Indian  2,716   788     3,504  

Pakistani    2,548   617    3,165  

Bangladeshi 1,290   254     1,544  

Other Asians 1,215   477     1,692  

Total   7,769   2,136   9,905  



The NHS Asian Tobacco Helpline (open Tuesdays 1-9 pm with messages taken at other times) provides a dedicated, confidential and free advice service on how to give up smoking cigarettes, 'bidi' or the hookah as well as chewing tobacco and  tobacco in paan. The phone numbers are: 0800 1690 881 (Urdu),0800 1690 882 (Punjabi),

0800 1690 883 (Hindi), 0800 1690 884 (Gujarati), 0800 1690 885 (Bengali).

The NHS Smoking Helpline (0800 169 0 169) provides expert, free, and friendly advice to smokers and those close to them. Since its launch it has received over 1 million calls and a year after first calling the helpline, nearly a quarter of callers said they had successfully given up and were still not smoking. Advisors can also refer callers to a local NHS Stop Smoking Service offering ongoing free face-to-face support and advice near their own home. There are over 170 throughout the country, offering a range of services including one-to-one meetings and group discussions with trained cessation advisors. Government research shows that smokers are up to four times more likely to give up successfully if they use their local NHS Stop Smoking Service together with NRT than they are if they use willpower alone.

Quitters can also sign up to a new website: www.justgiving.com/smokefree and quit smoking whilst raising money for a charity of their choice. The NHS also offers an interactive cessation support programme, Together, which helps smokers to quit by providing advice at key stages of the giving up process through a range of communication methods including email, text messages, mailings and phone calls.

Smokers who want to quit can find details of their local NHS Stop Smoking Service and information on all the other support available by visiting www.gosmokefree.co.uk,  texting ‘GIVE UP’ and their full postcode to 88088 or asking their local GP practice, pharmacy or hospital.



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