Tuesday May 31: World No Tobacco Day

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World No Tobacco Day is observed around the world every year on May 31, an initiative from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The aim is to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe as well drawing attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and its negative health effects.

World No Tobacco Day 2016

The theme for this year is ‘Get ready for plain packaging’.

Plain packaging laws require tobacco products to be sold in drab packages with large graphic images of tobacco-related diseases without logos.

Plain packaging legislation is expected in New Zealand in the near future.

Australian plain packaging laws came into effect in 2012. The UK, Ireland and France have recently passed similar legislation which will come into effect over the next few years.

Smoking and Heart disease

While smoking has long been associated with a range of diseases such as cancer smoking also increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease and stroke.

The Heart Research Institute and Smoking:

How we helped ban smoking in public places

Studies by the HRI into the effects of passive smoking on heart disease were pivotal in the global move to ban smoking in public places. Scientists from our Clinical Research Group actively investigated the links between atherosclerosis and a number of lifestyle factors (particularly obesity, diabetes, hypertension, smoking and inflammatory diseases) to determine how these events contribute to disease development and progression.

"We were the first group to discover the link between passive smoking and damage to the blood vessels in the body," says Clinical Research Group Leader Professor David Celermajer. 

"We and others have estimated that that discovery has probably already saved several hundred thousand lives."

Smoking during pregnancy more damaging than first thought

The Clinical Research Group also attracted worldwide interest in 2011 when they found evidence that women who smoke while pregnant affect their child's cardiovascular health for years to come.

The study found pre-natal exposure to a mother's smoking decreased the amount of good cholesterol in children which may increase the risk of eventual heart attacks and strokes by up to 20 per cent.

Why are smokers more likely to get heart disease?

The HRI’s Inflammation Group uncovered a possible explanation for this higher risk: the presence of certain oxidants in the bloodstream, which may stop “good” cholesterol from doing its job.

Oxidants are your body’s weapon against bacterial infections – they’re part of a healthy immune system response. However excessive generation of oxidants, caused by smoking, has been linked to a number of diseases, including atherosclerosis, the dominant cause of heart disease.

A worldwide problem

Tobacco use is among the leading preventable causes of death worldwide.

  • Each year, the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people.
  • More than 600,000 who die from exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • Smoking is on track to kill more than 8 million by 2030, by which time approximately 80% of the deaths would occur in low- and middle-income countries.                                        
  • The costs of tobacco use are measured in its enormous toll of disease, suffering and family distress. Economies also suffer from increased health-care costs and decreased productivity.

Are you thinking of quitting?

Visit the Quitline website: www.quit.org.nz.
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