World No Tobacco Day – What Is It And Why Is It Important To Us All?

WNTD stands for World No Tobacco Day, which is celebrated around the world on May 31st every year.  It was first suggested by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1987, when the World Health Assembly passed resolution WHA40.38 calling for April 7, 1988, the 40th anniversary of the WHO, to be “a world no-smoking day.”  In 1988, Resolution WHA42.19 was passed, calling for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, every year on May 31st.  Since then, the WHO has supported WNTD every year, with each year linked to a different ‘ills of tobacco’ related theme. This year, the theme is ‘Gender and tobacco with an emphasis of marketing to women.’

Women Are Being Targeted By Tobacco Companies!

According to the WHO, women constitute one of the biggest ‘targets of opportunity’ for cigarette companies today.  The tobacco industry is constantly and aggressively looking to replace lost users – be they lost due to quitting or the half of all smokers alive today who will die from smoking related diseases.  Currently fewer woman than men smoke or chew tobacco.  Of the world’s over 1 billion smokers, only about 200 million are women!  With women, the industry simply has more room to expand.  And while tobacco use amongst men in some countries is slowly decreasing, use amongst women is similarly increasing.

The following are some frightening statistics.  Currently, over five million people a year die from tobacco related illnesses (but that won’t be you, because you’re doing something about it, right?).  Of that five million, currently one and a half million are women. Worldwide, of the roughly 430 000 adult deaths caused yearly by second-hand smoke, about 64% occur in women.   With less than 9% of the world’s population being covered by comprehensive tobacco advertising bans, and only 5.4% covered by comprehensive national smoke-free laws, that leaves a lot of young women to be bombarded by tobacco advertising, without the benefit of equivalent awareness campaigns on the damage and harmful effects of tobacco products.

To quote the WHO:  “World No Tobacco Day 2010 focuses on the harm which tobacco marketing and smoke do to women. At the same time, it seeks to make men more aware of their responsibility to avoid smoking around the women with whom they live and work.

So what does this mean for you?  Well I make the presumption that if you are reading this blog post, you’re either are smoker, and ex-smoker looking to reverse damage done to your lungs, or perhaps you are a family member or a friend of a smoker or ex-smoker you are wishing to help.  Tobacco and its ills have affected all our lives. World No Tobacco Day seeks to promote a possible future where every day is a no tobacco day. That what we here at want for everyone who visits this site with the aim to give up and get their lungs clean; a long, happy lifetime of no tobacco.

Now the WHO suggests that you abstain from smoking on May 31st.  I think this is a laudable goal.  Even choosing WNTD as your quit day is very symbolic, but seeing it’s less than 24 hrs away for most of us, and as good preparation is key to a successful quit attempt, let me suggest and alternative.  If you are a smoker, wishing to quit and stay free of the ills of tobacco, why not spend a few hours on WNTD looking for ways to support your quit program.  You can abstain from smoking too, but you need to prepare, possibly for weeks before quitting, so keep that in mind before going cold turkey tomorrow.  And for those of you who have quit and are looking to help repair damage to their lungs, do your research on how to help this course of action on WNTD.  Wherever you are on your journey to better health, pass on what you have learned to those that are likewise working towards better health.  By supporting each other on the lung health trail, we’ll all get to where we want to be sooner, and all live longer, healthier lives.

One great resource for not only quitting, but making every day a ‘no tobacco day’ is The Complete Lung Detoxification Guide. We have information on the physical and the psychological sides of tobacco dependence, the importance of stress management, using positive forward projection to keep the goal of optimal lung health in mind at those weak moments, and a plethora of tips and methods to get your lungs free of the ills of tar far quicker than your body can manage on its own.  You owe it to yourself, on World No Tobacco Day, to check it out.

Until next time,

stay well, stay quit, and lung-toxin free,

oh and happy World No Tobacco Day!

William Renolds

Situational Smoking – Do Places You Regularly Smoke at Make You Want to Smoke There Again?

situational smoking

Does where you smoke matter?

Have you ever been in a place, or been doing an activity, at which you have regularly smoked in the past and really felt like lighting up again, even if you’ve vowed to quit?  Then you’ve experienced the effects of Situational Smoking.  The thing is, it’s not just an association in your mind; recent research suggests that it is your brain getting ready for an infusion of your drug of choice – nicotine.

I expect every smoker that has quit feels this way at one time or another.  You are in your favorite chair, or in the car in a traffic snarl, or relaxing after some intimate time with your partner, in general a place or an activity that your mind strongly associates with smoking.  Have a think about it.  You’ll probably find at least one, but more likely several.  A favorite doorway outside work, a food or drink that you associate with a smoke, or a piece of furniture that you‘ve regularly occupied when smoking.  Whatever it is, you have just discovered a habitual queue that tells your mind you are likely to smoke.

So what is happening in your head at times, or in places like these?  To help you understand the effect, I have to tell you a parallel story that you might have never dreamed could be related; that of junkies dying in alleyways.

Ever wondered why so many heroin users die in alleyways?  Perhaps you think the just go there to shoot up, overdose and die.  Not so.  What would you think if I told you that they have no more heroin in that alleyway than they do at home.  They didn’t die from that dosage at home, so why do they die in the alley?  This comes down to the situational effect again.  Here’s how it plays out.

The user injects say 10 units of heroin to get the buzz they need at home.  They go out to dinner.  Their last buzz wears off, and they want it back before they go clubbing.  They sneak out into the alley behind the restaurant, and hit up with their usual 10 units and it kills them.  Why?

This is the Situational Effect, and you know what, it wasn’t the heroin that killed them, it was their brain.  When you mind associates a place or an activity with the intake of a drug, and you are in that place or undertaking that activity, your brain expects a hit of your drug of choice (and don’t kid yourself, nicotine is a drug of addiction).  So what does your brain do?  It’s depresses your neurotransmitters (specifically the chemicals in your brain that make you feel good) to make you ‘ready’ for the drug.  Some researchers think it’s a protective mechanism to prevent overdose.  Sad thing is, when the drug taker is not in their regular drug taking place or doing the drug-related activity, their brain does not depress their central nervous system (CNS), they go too far on the same dose, and OD.

So that’s what happens to our hapless junkie.  A dose that would have given just the right buzz at home kills them in an unfamiliar location.

Now I’m not suggesting you are a junkie.  You’re a regular person who’s probably having a rough time quitting cigarettes.  But one of the ‘why’s’ that cause this rough time is the Situational Effect.

Whatever this place or activity is, if your mind associates it with smoking then it will cause you to really want to light up when you are there, or when you are doing that activity.

Now our Complete Lung Detoxification Guide recommends that you get away from these places and activities to help you break the association.  Problem is, the research I’ve recently been following suggests that as soon as you do the activity again, or go back to the place that your mind associates with smoking, your brain will down-regulate your CNS and you’ll feel crappy, and want to smoke. This happens even if you’ve been quit for quite a while.  And unfortunately, there is no easy way to get around it.

As we so often state: awareness is the key.  If you are aware that this will happen, you can be ready for it.  This effect is only temporary, lasting from half an hour to several hours, depending on your past levels of smoking.  If you know it is coming, you can be ready for it, and can distract yourself until your neurotransmitters recover.

The good news? The more times you put yourself in your ‘Situational Smoking’ locations, or do the related activities WITHOUT smoking, you’re retraining your brain not to do this anymore. Eventually (and the time this takes will vary from person to person) your brain will lose the association of smoking with that place or activity, and the CNS depression of that situation will decrease, and then disappear entirely.

So keep at it!  Put yourself in your Situational Smoking place/activity when you are feeling strong, and wait it out.  When you do so and you don’t feel like smoking, you’ll know you’ve REALLY beaten the habit that kills millions every year!

Until next time,

stay well, stay quit, and lung-toxin free.

~William Renolds