World No Tobacco Day 2021: Battling mind and industry
31 May is World No Tobacco Day. Since 1987, it has existed to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco addiction, and the ways in which people can fight the tobacco epidemic.
While it has a more educational pretence than No Smoking Day, the end goal is essentially the same: to reduce tobacco consumption rates across the world.
The Dangers of Tobacco
Smoking kills around 78,000 people in the UK each year. Plus, smokers have an increased risk of developing over 50 serious health conditions, including various forms of cancer.
Excessive smoking negatively affects your heart & blood circulation. This can lead to the following issues:
- coronary heart disease
- a heart attack
- a stroke
- peripheral vascular disease
- cerebrovascular disease
The following lung conditions are also prevalent among smokers:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Industry and Exploitation
Committing to an anti-tobacco sentiment means drawing attention to the tobacco industry that consciously profits off addiction.
While tobacco expenditure in the UK is down from the 2000s, we are still spending over £18 billion a year on it. Much of this is funnelled back into marketing, which targets everyone from adults to children.
For World No Tobacco Day, WHO published these tactics deployed by tobacco companies to lure younger generations:
- Flavours appealing to children in smokeless tobacco, shisha, and e-cigarettes – e.g. watermelon, chocolate, lemonade
- Promotion of tobacco products and the distribution of free samples at popular events for young people
- Advertising and product placement on movies & TV shows, and through social media platforms with paid influencers
The Psychology of Addiction
There are two main terms to consider when talking about the cycle of drug use:
Addiction usually refers to the physical elements of a drug that your body adapts to (i.e. you develop a tolerance, and not using the drug leads to withdrawal). However, addiction often involves psychological elements too.
Dependence usually refers solely to the psychological aspects (e.g. comfort derived from the routine, chewing a cigarette, etc.). Tobacco addiction usually involves a strong mix of both.
We have the capacity to form a dependence on anything that gives us pleasure. Combined with physical addiction, this problem is compounded. This makes smoking a particularly tough habit to break.
However, it is not impossible. Any psychological dependence can be broken with enough commitment. Within 20 minutes of quitting, the heart rate drops. Within 15 years of quitting, the heart disease risk is equal to a non-smoker. Whether you focus on the short-term or the long-term, addiction is not a prison – you can always change for the better. This World No Tobacco Day, consider a no smoking day to regain control.
Click here to read more and find some tips on how to break a smoking habit.
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