Smoke free

Over our lifetime attitudes to cigarette smoking have changed dramatically as the body of research showing the dangers and undesirability of the habit has grown. Smoking has been attributed to many illnesses and diseases including heart disease, strokes and lung disease and cancer. Lately the awareness of 'second-hand' smoke also has been brought to the fore with statistics estimating that approximately 388 people die from exposure to this in New Zealand every year. In particular children are the most vulnerable and it causes a range of childhood illness including slow lung growth and poor lung function, asthma, bronchitis and ear infections.

Did you know that there are over 4000 chemicals that a smoker inhales?

If you are looking for ways to 'clear the air' or even better trying to go smokefree - contact your local Smokefree Co-ordinator at your local public health unit or the Cancer Society, or the Smoke Free Contacts website.

Many articles are written and studies undertaken about smoking. We have included a few below for your information.

Study suggests older non-smokers benefit most from smoking bans

Older people who have never smoked benefit most from smoking bans, suggests a study....carried out with the University of Edinburgh and the Universities of Otago and Canterbury in New Zealand. It found that heart attacks were reduced for ex-smokers of all ages and that there was a greater decrease in hospital admissions for men compared with women. In addition, the study found that people in more affluent neighbourhoods benefited more from the ban than those in poorer areas. This may be because they visit cafes and and restaurants more often. Alternatively, it make be that they are more likely to use the smoking ban as an incentive to quit.

Smoking endangers eyesight

by REBECCA WALSH, Health Reporter for the NZ Herald (27th August 2003).

This article discusses the topic of people who quit smoking, even late in life, can reduce the risk of developing an age-related eye disease, research suggests. Australian eye specialist Professor Paul Mitchell said people who smoked were three to four times more likely to develop macular degeneration than those who did not. Professor Mitchell, who was in New Zealand as part of the Save our Sight awareness campaign, said GPs often struggled to find reasons to tell elderly patients why they should give up smoking.

"The attitude of people in their 60s and 70s is, 'what good would it do me now to stop smoking?'

Professor Mitchell, head of Ophthalmology at Sydney University, said there were two theories why smoking had such an impact. One was that it caused constriction of the blood vessels. The other, more likely, explanation was that smoking depleted what was thought to be a protective pigment layer on the macula. Studies had shown that people with macular degeneration were more likely to have falls and longer hospital stays and to be admitted earlier to rest-homes.

Websites of interest

  • ASH New Zealand is an organisation which is devoted to helping "to improve the health and well being of all New Zealanders by eliminating disease and premature death due to tobacco." This site has lots of information promoting the desirability of a smokefree world from lists of smokefree venues to advice on how to quit.
  • The Cancer Society of NZ Inc has lots of information on health related matters including comprehensive directory of articles on the benefits of giving up smoking. It also includes a very helpful links pages for other smoking related sites.
  • The Ministry of Health site has lots of information, research results and statistics on smoking in New Zealand.
  • There's never been more support around for those that want to "kick the habit". If you want to quit go to the Quit Site.
  • Smoking Cessation - This section of the The Center for Social Gerontology website provides information on and access to materials concerning smoking cessation, the effects of smoking cessation on the health of older persons, and the value of healthy lifestyles for older persons, which include not smoking or being subjected to secondhand smoke. (What is Gerontology? It is the study of the ageing processes and individuals as they grow from middle age through to later life.)

Find your nearest Age Concern