No-Tobacco Day: Understand the harmful effects of smoking

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    A 2017 survey revealed that 20% of South Africa’s adult population (aged 15 years and older) are tobacco smokers. It is also estimated that more than 44,000 South Africans die from tobacco-related diseases annually. The World Health Organisation has confirmed that tobacco kills about 5.4 million people globally each year and lists the drug as the single most preventable death in the world. With this in mind, the WHO launched the World No-Tobacco Day to assist in creating awareness and decreasing the number of active smokers. Discover more about the harmful effects of tobacco smoking with Bloom and trusted medical health partner, Momentum, as they shed light on this health campaign.

    What is tobacco?

    Tobacco is derived from the Solanaceae plant family of which there are more than 70 different types of plant species. The leaves of the tobacco plant are dried and cured so that

    they can be used for smoking purposes in the form of cigarettes, cigars, snuff, dipping or chewing tobacco. Unfortunately, tobacco contains the highly addictive and harmful stimulants alkaloid nicotine and harmala alkaloids which are leading risk factors for diseases affecting the cardiovascular system and respiratory system, as well as being linked to the development of certain types of cancers.

    What is No-Tobacco Day?

    World No-Tobacco Day is a health campaign initiative driven by the World Health Organisation and is recognised annually on the 31st of May. This year the theme for No-Tobacco Day is ‘Commit to Quit’ and the WHO plans to reach 100 million people worldwide by advocating for stronger tobacco cessation policies, promoting access to services that will allow smokers to quit smoking, raising awareness about the proven health risks associated with tobacco smoking and empowering smokers to quit through their ‘quit & win’ initiatives.

    Tobacco smoking: facts and figures

    ● Tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death globally and is responsible for the death of 1 in 10 adults worldwide
    ● The risk of suffering a heart attack increases by 5.6% for every cigarette you smoke
    ● Smokers die, on average, 14 years earlier than non-smokers
    ● Smoking kills more than half of all people before the age of 60 years if they’ve smoked during their entire adult life

    Tobacco and nicotine effects on the body

    Smoking tobacco is very harmful to your health. The substance doesn’t just affect your lungs but your entire body as well, leading to long-term side effects and increasing your risk for developing certain conditions. Some of the harmful health effects of tobacco use include:

    1. Respiratory damage

    Smoking can damage your lungs and cause lung disease by damaging the airways and alveoli in the lungs. As a result, you could develop lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

    2. Cancer risk

    Tobacco smoking has been linked to various types of cancer, including but not limited to lung cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, kidney cancer and colon cancer.

    3. Cardiovascular damage

    Smoking tobacco can irreparably damage your cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels) as the nicotine causes the arteries to tighten, which restricts blood flow. Subsequent damage to your blood vessels will increase your risk of developing an artery or heart disease. Smoking tobacco will also increase your blood pressure, which means you’re at increased risk for having a stroke.

    4. Ageing and beauty

    Substances in tobacco cause the structure of your skin to change for the worse, which means you will lose elasticity in your skin giving you a premature wrinkled, uneven skin tone. Smoking also contributes to hair loss and can irreparably stain one’s teeth.

    5. Reproductive damage

    Smoking has been linked to various types of reproductive damage and can cause fertility problems in both men and women. Smoking can cause birth defects, like a low birth weight or premature birth, and can prevent conception by causing a women’s ovaries to age prematurely.

    5 Tips to quit smoking tobacco

    Due to the fact that nicotine is addictive, it can prove quite challenging to quit smoking. While there are various ways you stop smoking for good there are also some excellent tips to consider:

    1. Define your motivation

    List the reasons why you want to quit smoking. In fact, write them down so that you can remind yourself exactly why you choose to go this route. Chances are, you’re doing it for good health which is an excellent reason to protect yourself from the harmful effects of tobacco.

    2. Plan and prepare

    If you fail to prepare then prepare to fail. It goes without saying that you need to form a strategy before you quit. Decide on the type of programme you’re going to use and get rid of any tempting reminders or triggers about smoking, like ashtrays.

    3. Deadlines and timeframes

    It’s important that you give yourself a realistic deadline by which you plan to have totally quit smoking. That way you can plan on reaching certain milestones and this will serve as encouragement that you’re achieving your goals along this journey.

    4. Get support

    Let your friends, family and colleagues know that you plan on quitting. This way they can provide you with the necessary support, encouragement or distraction you may need during the process.

    5. Watch your diet and keep moving

    People who quit smoking tend to gain weight by replacing cigarettes with food. Opt for healthy options, like fresh fruit and vegetables. Likewise, make time for a regular exercise routine, which can also take your mind off the tobacco cravings.

    Anti-tobacco programmes: resources you can use

    Congratulations! You want to quit smoking and commit to good health. There are a number of resources you can use to assist in your journey to joining the smoke-free world.

    National Quit Line | National Council Against Smoking

    011-720 3145 |

    This organisation provides free telephonic advice and personal guidance about how to quit smoking.


    021-788 9120 | 011-487 0231 | 061-190 8147

    Smokenders offers a seven-week ‘quit smoking’ programme and personalised one-on-one counselling.

    CANSA e-Kick Butt Programme |

    This 100% online resource offers a unique quit smoking programme by providing you with free emails, newsletters, surveys and tools you can use.

    Stay healthy with affordable health insurance cover

    Smoking tobacco can cause a lot of health issues and problems. Whether or not you smoke, it’s highly advisable that you have access to quality medical care and services in case of an emergency or chronic medical condition. Discover more about health insurance from Momentum Health4Me. There are a number of different options you can choose from, like the Momentum Health4Me Bronze health insurance, which covers basic medical needs, through to the more comprehensive Momentum Health4Me Gold health insurance option.


    A healthy lifestyle starts by making the right decisions. If you do smoke tobacco, there’s always the choice you can make to quit. Commit to healthy living and good health with Bloom and Momentum Health4Me. Contact our offices to speak to a trained consultant about getting a free health insurance quote to suit your budget and medical needs.

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    You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.

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