Tobacco is harmful to all of us!

Tobacco is harmful to all of us!

Tobacco is harmful to all of us!

South African physiotherapists call on all South Africans to join the
fight against smoking on World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2005

How clean are your lungs? You may be proud of your status as a non-smoker,
but if you spend time daily with smokers, the likelihood is that your lungs
are contaminated with tar and other toxic chemicals.

Think about this: when a smoker inhales, he only draws in about 15% of the
smoke from the cigarette (the mainstream smoke). The remaining 85% that drifts
up from the burning tip, known as side stream smoke, goes into the atmosphere
- into the air you breathe.

“There is compelling evidence that side stream smoke is dangerous to
non-smokers who inhale it passively,” says the President of the South
African Society of Physiotherapy, Wilma Erasmus. “Side stream smoke actually
contains more of the dangerous chemicals than the smoke inhaled by the smoker
- 15 times the carbon monoxide (which reduces the oxygen in the blood), 21 times
the nicotine, which decreases the function of the heart muscle, and 170 times
the ammonia.”

A non-smoker who spends eight hours a day in a smoke-filled room - and despite
more stringent workplace rules, many still do - is smoking the equivalent of
five cigarettes a day. Air conditioners are no solution; very often, they simply
recirculate smoke-laden air.

The results are seen by physiotherapists daily - patients with headaches, higher
blood pressure and heart rate, compromised lung function, a greater susceptibility
to sore throats. On top of this, passive smoking may increase a non-smoker’s
chances of getting heart disease and cancers of various kinds.

Smoking causes impotence!

Of course, the smoker runs even worse risks: cancer of the lungs, throat, vocal
cords, mouth, tongue, oesophagus, bladder, pancreas and cervix - smoking may
account for as much as 30% of all cancer deaths, and we know that smoking causes
more than 90% of lung cancers and about 25% of colon cancer. They also run less
well-known risks which could be of equal concern to some smokers. Men might
be worried to know that smoking can cause and exacerbate impotence; women might
be concerned that smoking causes earlier onset of menopause, for instance.

“In South Africa, tobacco-related diseases kill one person every eight
seconds,” says Erasmus. “The World Health Organisation projects
that just twenty five years from now - within our lifetimes - smoking will be
the top cause of death worldwide. Given that one in five South African children
try their first cigarette before the age of ten, according to the Medical Research
Council, we are not within sight of victory over tobacco yet.”

South African physiotherapists are delighted that attitudes towards smoking
are changing - an SA Advertising Research Foundation survey shows that 89% of
men and 94% of women now believe smoking is bad for their health, up from 67%
and 77.7% in 1992. But, says Erasmus, research shows that in the age group 15
? 24 years, 21- 37% are still heavy smokers.

“South Africans face many health challenges, but tobacco is the only
one which each of us can tackle very easily through our daily actions,”
she says. “If you are a smoker, quit - I know it’s hard at first,
but you will begin to feel better and fitter within 24 hours. If you are not
a smoker, try to make your environment at home, work and in the community smoke-free.
Help smokers you know to give up, and support South Africa’s Tobacco Legislation!”

Tips for giving up happily

*Set a date and prepare yourself by starting a regular exercise regime. If
you do no more than take a brisk walk for 30 minutes daily for three weeks before
the date you quit, it will help you to cope with the withdrawal and the cravings,
and avoid excessive weight gain.

*Change your environment and your habits. Many things and places serve as triggers
to light a cigarette. If you always sit in the same chair front of the TV and
smoke, try sitting in a different chair; buy a headset for your phone at work
so you can use both hands on the keyboard instead of sitting with the phone
in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

*Don’t drink alcohol for a couple of months after you give up - alcohol
releases inhibitions, and you may find yourself agreeing to ‘just one’
before you even realise what you’re doing.

*When you feel a craving:

Take several deep breaths until it passes (it will only last for a few seconds)

Drink a long glass of water

Go for a quick walk round the block - exercise releases ‘happy hormones’
which will help you beat the craving.

How can smokers and passive smokers benefit from physiotherapy?

Physiotherapists are trained to diagnose, counsel and treat patients suffering
from a variety of diseases.

Physiotherapy treatment and rehabilitation is of benefit in many conditions
associated with smoking:

* For asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and sinusitis:

o Drainage of the phlegm, breathing exercises and advice on coping

* For heart attacks (myocardial infarction):

o Rehabilitation towards normal fitness and functioning

* For stroke:

o Rehabilitation to recover functional movement

* For blood vessel disease:

o Pain relieving and blood circulation improving techniques

* For post heart? and/or lung surgery

o Rehabilitation to restore functional breathing patterns, cardio?vascular
fitness and social functioning

Issued on behalf of the South African Society for Physiotherapy


Provincial Branches

Gauteng Limpopo Mpumalanga Kwazulu Natal Free State Western Cape Eastern Cape Northern Cape North West