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Start Again in 2010 - Stop Smoking - The Smokers

Monday, 11 January 2010

This week starts our "Start Again in 2010". We have chosen two groups of people to focus on. We will follow them for 10 weeks and join them on their journey as they try to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. With the help of a panel of experts we hope to make this happen for them.

First Smoker: Rosie Carroll Co. Roscommon - She smokes between 25 to 30 a day. She has tried everything. She feels like she is a hopeless case. It is not the money side any more it's her health.

Second Smoker: William Salinger Dublin - He smokes about 50 a day. It's very scary but he can't seem to stop - He really needs support to do it. He is the only one that smokes in his house and his wife keeps asking him to stop. He can't even remember why he started. He knew nothing about the dangers of smoking back when he started .

Third Smoker - Veronica O'Donnell Co. Tipperary - Veronica smokes around 20 a day and more when she is out. She did give up smokes a few years ago and went cold Turkey and lasted about 8 months.

Cathy Maher Pharmacist - Duleek & Donore Pharmacy, Co. Meath

She is very active in health promotion and patient education, having won an award in this field in 2005. She firmly believes that giving patients the information around their medicines/conditions empowers them to making choices to have a healthier lifestyle. Community pharmacists are the most accessible health care professionals,with most pharmacies open for 6/7 days a week, often with extended opening hours. People should be encouraged to make use of this free advice, and contact their pharmacists about any health query.


1. Carbon Monoxide Breath Test:

The test gives an indication of smoking status through seven level indicators using the familiar red, amber and green traffic light system.

A heavy smoker could have as much as 10% of their normal blood oxygen taken up by CO. To compensate for the shortage of oxygen the body has to work harder with less fuel. When they stop smoking the level of carbon monoxide in the blood falls almost immediately.

There are 7 levels, which range form non-smoker (green) to heavily addicted smoker (red).

This test will be extremely beneficial - it will give an indication of the patients level of smoking, and will show a positive benefit within weeks of quitting.

2. The LUNG AGE Test

This is a motivational tool for smoking intervention. The Lung Age Monitor compares a subject's FEV1 (forced expiratory volume - or the force at which they can blow out) with predicted normal values to calculate the subject's 'lung age'. A high lung age inrelation to the subject's chronological age can illustrate the likely negative impact of continued smoking on lung function and encourage smoking cessation ie: sometimes a heavy smoker in their 40's could have a 'lung age' of 70's.

Additional / Misc' Info:

The Cost of Smoking -

Let's calculate (using today's prices €8.45 per pack) the amount you can save by stopping smoking over a week/a month/1 year/ 5 years/ 10 years/ 20 years.

If you smoke 20 a day -

Cost per week: €59.15 -

Cost per Month: €261.95 -

Cost per Year: €3,084.25 -

Cost over 5 years: €15,421.25 -

Cost over 10 years: €30,842.50

Cost over 20 years: €61,685.00

If you smoke 40 a day -

Cost per week: € 118.30

Cost per Month: € 523.90

Cost per Year: €6,168.50

Cost over 5 years: €30,842.50

Cost over 10 years: €61,685.00

Cost over 20 years: €123,370.00

The benefits of giving up

The health benefits start right away when you give up smoking:

. Within 20 minutes your circulation will improve, your heart rate and blood pressure will get lower. This reduces your risk of heart attack straight away.
. Within 8 hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood will drop and the oxygen level will go up.
. Within 24-48 hours all the carbon monoxide will have left your body.
. Within a few days your sense of smell and taste will start to improve.
. After 72 hours your breathing will improve and your energy levels will increase.
. Within 2 or 3 months your lung capacity can increase by up to 30%.
. Within 1 year your chance of heart attack drops by half and within 10 years the risk drops to almost the same as a non-smoker.
. Within 5 years the risk of smoking related cancers will be greatly reduced.
. Once you give up, your lungs start to fight back by coughing up tar. A mug full of tar builds up in the lungs of a 20 a day smoker over the period of a year. It is the toxic chemicals in tar that cause cancer.

These are just some benefits. No matter what age you give up smoking, you will:

. look and feel better
. have fresher breath and cleaner teeth, hair, skin and fingers
. have more control of your life
. be fitter and have more energy
. reduce your risk of illness
. reduce the complications of existing illnesses
. have a better quality of life
. be a good role model for your children or grandchildren
. have more money
. have a healthier family as they will not be exposed to your second-hand smoke

Smoking Facts
. Most smokers (83%) regret that they ever started smoking and would not smoke if they had the choice again.
. Every 6.5 seconds someone in the world dies from tobacco use = 1.5 million people dying needlessly each year.
. Every cigarette a person smokes reduces his/her life by five and a half minutes.
. In Ireland, smoking is the leading cause of avoidable death. Nearly 7,000 people die each year from the effects of smoking and thousands of others are ill because of smoking-related diseases.

There are around 4000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, here are just a handful of them.

Nicotine: Nicotine is a colourless, poisonous alkaloid, derived from the tobacco plant. It is a powerful drug, which affects the brain and quickly becomes addictive. It can also be found in weedkiller.

Tar: "Tar" is the term used to describe the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes. This is a sticky brown substance that forms when tobacco cools and condenses. It collects in the lungs and can cause cancer.

Carbon Monoxide: An odourless, colourless gas that is released from burning tobacco. When it is inhaled it enters the blood stream and interferes with the working of the heart and the blood vessels. Up to 15% of a smoker's blood can be carrying carbon monoxide instead of oxygen.

Arsenic: Arsenic-containing pesticides used in tobacco farming occur in small quantities in cigarette smoke. Arsenic is commonly found in rat poison.

Ammonia - floor cleaner: Ammonia is a toxic, colourless gas with a sharp odour. Ammonia compounds are commonly used in cleaning products and fertilizers. Also used to boost the impact of nicotine in manufactured cigarettes.

Acetone - Nail polish remover: Fragrant volatile liquid ketone, used as a solvent, for example, nail polish remover.

Toluene - Explosives: Toluene is a highly toxic chemical. The main uses of toluene in industry include rubbers, oils, resins, adhesives, inks, detergents, dyes and explosives.
Methylamine - tanning lotion: A chemical found in tanning lotion.

Pesticides - DDT: A number of pesticides (chemicals used to kill pests, usually insects) are present in cigarette smoke. - pesticides are toxic. These pesticides find their way into cigarettes because they're used on tobacco plants as they are growing.

Polonium -210
: A radioactive element - used in nuclear weapons, also used as an atomic heat source.

Methanol : A fuel used in the aviation industry.

Formaldehyde: It causes cancer, and can damage your lungs, skin and digestive system. Embalmers use it to preserve dead bodies.

Lead: Lead poisoning stunts your growth, makes you vomit, and damages your brain.