On 31 May, the World Health Organization and its partners around the world will mark World No Tobacco Day.
The purpose of this day is to globally highlight health effects and other risks associated with tobacco use.
The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2018 is Tobacco and Heart Disease. According to the World Health Organization, “Tobacco use is an important risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.”
Unfortunately, many people are unaware that tobacco use is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases. These are diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
A common one is atherosclerosis, a condition that develops when a substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.
“Cardiovascular diseases kill more people than any other cause of death worldwide, and tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure contribute to approximately 12 per cent of all heart disease deaths” – World Health Organization.
With the legalization of non-medical cannabis anticipated later this year, it is also important to note that research has linked smoked cannabis use with harmful effects on the cardiovascular system.
Health Canada advises these can include damaged blood vessels, decreased blood pressure, and increased heart rate. This can be dangerous for people with heart conditions and can lead to an increased risk of heart attack.
While further cannabis research overall is needed, it has been identified that second hand cannabis smoke produces more changes to genetic material and is more toxic to living cells than tobacco smoke.
Another concern with legalization of cannabis expressed by some health experts is the “renormalization” of smoking. There is a link between the use of smoked cannabis and smoking tobacco. It has been suggested that tobacco smoking rates may therefore begin to rise after cannabis legalization.
The good news? No matter what your age, your body starts to recover within 20 minutes of you quitting smoking. After 48 hours, your chance of having a heart attack goes down and within one year, your risk of a smoking-related heart attack is cut in half.
If you are thinking about making a change to your tobacco use, Alberta Quits provides free, convenient and personalized resources that can double your chances of quitting.
Help is available online at albertaquits.ca or by phone at 1-888-710-7848. Cessation Counsellors will help you develop a quit plan, manage your cravings and stay on track. This support is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There is also a texting support program as well as group support though the Quit Core program.
Going without tobacco is hard. Alberta Quits can help!
ALBERTA HEALTH SERVICES
Addiction and Mental Health, South Zone Prevention/Promotion Team