Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Weedless Wednesday

Today, January 20, 2010 is Weedless Wednesday which is part of National Non-Smoking Week (January 17 - 23, 2010).

The third Wednesday of every January is designated as Weedless Wednesday. It is part of National Non-Smoking Week. NNSW was first established in 1977, by the Canadian Council For Tobacco Control (formerly the Canadian Council On Smoking and Health).

The goals of this organization are to:
- educate Canadians about the dangers of smoking
- to prevent people who do not smoke from beginning to smoke and becoming addicted to tobacco
- to help people quit smoking
- to promote the right of individuals to breathe air unpolluted by tobacco smoke
- to denormalize the tobacco industry, tobacco industry marketing practices and tobacco use
- to assist in the attainment of a smoke-free society in Canada

I have never been a smoker. I was never the least bit tempted to smoke. I grew up in a home with smokers, but was always nauseated by the smell. Not just while the tobacco was being used but the lingering after effects that stayed and permeated everything in the vicinity. My throat hurt, my eyes watered and my nose would get stuffed up - which made it hard to breathe.

My symptoms got worse as I grew older. As an adult, I learned through allergy tests that I was actually allergic to tobacco products. I really wasn't that surprised to learn of the allergy as I'd suspected it for years. By the time I did learn of it, many of my family had already quit smoking.

Whenever I could, I tried to avoid people who smoked or places where people had smoked. It wasn't always easy. Most people I knew were pretty respectful, but you can't control every situation. There have been countless times that I have had to leave when someone who reeks of tobacco is near.

Before it was illegal to smoke in public places here in Manitoba, I often had to leave restaurants. I remember one time that my mom and I had just gotten our lunch when a smoker lit up at the next table. I could barely breathe so I went out to the car while mom explained to the waitress and asked for our meal to go. We certainly weren't the first - or last - to complain at that establishment, but a few months later they did set up a non-smoking section. The problem was that you had to walk through the smoking section to get to the non-smoking section. The manager explained that he would have liked to do it differently but the non-smoker section was a larger section and in a different room with better ventilation. I just held my nose as I hurried through.

In more recent years, there have been more bans added to restrict the use of nicotine in public places. The bans include smoking in any enclosed public places such as restaurants, bars, clubs and malls. Many apartment blocks (including mine) have prohibited smoking in hallways or common areas. Stores are no longer permitted to display tobacco products, adds or sell to minors. Tobacco companies are not allowed to advertise over the airwaves or sponsor public events. Some areas also prohibit smoking in any vehicles where a minor is present.

All these bans do help, but it doesn't alleviate the after smell that surrounds the smoker and effects the health of us non-smokers. I have still had to leave elevators and buses when smokers are too near me. I've also had to stand downwind of smokers at bus stops. Even though smoking isn't allowed in common areas in my building, I can still smell it in areas near apartments with smokers or occasionally through the ventilation system.

If it were up to me, smoking would be illegal - PERIOD!

Not just because of my allergies, but because of the long lasting health effects to both smokers and non-smokers alike. The health care costs alone for smoking related illnesses is staggering. Just think of the good that all that money could be used for! Things like; irradiating poverty, hunger, AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer's just to name a few.

Regardless of what anyone tries to tell you, smoking is anything but attractive or cool. A friend once described kissing his smoker girlfriend as "like licking an ashtray!" My, how romantic! Smoking is severely addictive, will prematurely age you and send you to an early grave.

Most people make several attempts to quit before finally succeeding. My mom tried a few times, but finally quit when the price went up to 75 cents/package around 1970 or so! She just couldn't bear the thought of paying such an outrageous price! At least a couple of my friends tried at least 10 times over the years to kick the habit before succeeding. They are now avid non-smokers promoting the benefits of quitting and living a smoke free life.

Quitting is anything but easy. You have to be mentally ready and physically prepared to tackle the withdrawal symptoms.

There are numerous on line sites that can help you find the best way for you to tackle quitting. They can help you find local support and provide you with tips to get you through.

A few years ago, a couple of my friends were trying to quit and I wrote out a few suggestions for them.

- increased energy; healthier lungs and heart; reduced stains on fingers and teeth; lower risk of cancer; smoking possibly linked to Alzheimer's and Macular Degeneration (and others)
- non-smokers and especially those who quit are a positive roll model to children, family, friends, customers and clients who are trying to quit or are tempted to start.
- non-smokers have a far greater chance of living longer, healthier more productive lives.

- depriving the government of tobacco taxes!
- the money you save from not buying tobacco products can be used for any number of things, such as: kids education (or your own); pension/retirement plans; vacations; home improvements; etc.
- devise a financial penalty for smoking such as for every dollar you spend on tobacco, you must spend at least an additional dollar on a charitable donation (perhaps the cancer society or the lung association?). One friend told me that they knew someone who made a deal with their friends that for every dollar they spent on tobacco they would give a dollar to an organization that they were politically/morally opposed to!

Still tempted to smoke?
- visit or volunteer at a cancer care program or palliative care project and observe first hand the effects of smoking related cancers and emphysema. That could be you in a few short years.
- your second hand smoke could be killing someone you love.
- every time you smoke you are decreasing the length of your life and the amount of time you will have to watch your children and grandchildren grow.
- Smokers are directly responsible for the profits of Tobacco companies. Despite employment standard practices in some parts of the world, many tobacco workers such as the people who pick, are often poorly paid migrant workers. These people endure backbreaking work to support your habit. As human beings, they deserve better.

- learn to savour the flavour of your food by eating slowly and enjoying each morsel.
- finger foods are a great distraction to occupy the hand that held the cigarette.
- healthy snacks such as raw vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, nuts in the shell, unsalted nuts, trail mixes, unbuttered popcorn, baked pretzels, dry cereals such as cheerios or multi grain cereals.
- try eating snacks one piece at a time rather than by the handful.

- learn a musical instrument such as piano or guitar
- take up a hobby or craft. The things you make could be used as Christmas or Birthday gifts or donated to a charity for raffles or gifts for underprivileged.
- craft hobby suggestions include: knitting; crochet; needlepoint; wood working; carving; engraving; calligraphy; sculpting; painting; sketching; model building; glass etching; origami; and leather tooling just to name a few, Visit a local crafts store for ideas, inspiration and supplies!
- you could also learn Braille or sign language!

When you do quit, you will want to start a more healthy lifestyle and that should most definitely include physical activity. Something such as Thai Chi, Yoga or Pilates will help to relax both the mind and the body. Even taking a walk is a great way to relax and get some fresh clean air.

Quitting any habit is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but you have to be ready emotionally and physically to make the changes. If you aren't emotionally ready for change it is easy to backslide, but don't give up. Just pick yourself up and try again. You can and will succeed!

This is a pic of a ceiling mural in a smokers room that speaks volumes:

Good Luck!!


No comments: