A man crushing cigarettes with his fist

Smoking is one of the main contributors to cancers and many other diseases. It is no coincidence that a higher proportion of cancer, heart attack, stroke and kidney failure patients are smokers.

The World Health Organization designates 31 May as No Tobacco Day every year. Take this time to learn about the serious side effects of smoking and using alternative tobacco products, which not only affect smokers but also those who are around smokers. It is never too late to say no to the habit!

Related: Have a Minute? Talk to Your Kids about Smoking

Where There’s Smoke... There Are Health Risks

Crushed cigarettes spelling out the word "Stop"

Globally, there are more than one billion smokers, and smoking tobacco kills nearly six million people each year. But the sadder fact is that more than 600,000 of these deaths are non-smokers who succumbed to the effects of secondhand smoke. Chillingly, smoking tobacco is projected to kill more than eight million people each year by 2030.

Locally, smoking kills about 2,500 smokers and 250 nonsmokers each year. Though most smokers in Singapore are cigarette users, there is an increasing number who experiment with other tobacco products.

These alternative tobacco products include the following:

Cigars

Every cigar contains higher amounts of tobacco than normal cigarettes. When you smoke cigars, majority of the smoke remains in the oral cavity, thus cigar smoking is usually associated with oral cavity cancer, throat cancer, larynx cancer, as well as chronic heart disease and lung disease.

Roll-Your-Own Cigarettes

Also known as ang hoon, they may appear to be thinner but self-rolled cigarettes contain the same harmful chemicals found in regular cigarettes. As such, ang hoon and cigarette smokers face similar risks of smoking-related diseases.

Shisha

A popular alternative to cigarette smoking that was banned in Singapore in November 2014, using a shisha involves smoking from a water pipe with flavoured, partially burned tobacco. It is a well-loved social activity among younger smokers who view it as a harmless recreational activity. But the fact is that a 45-minute session of shisha smoking is about equal to smoking 200 cigarettes!

Electronic Cigarettes

Resembling conventional cigarettes, these are banned in Singapore under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act. Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered vaporisers that produce an aerosol (a very fine spray) when the liquid they contain is heated. These liquids usually contain a mixture of propylene glycol, glycerine, nicotine and flavourings that are harmful to the human body.

Related: ”Shisha Is Not Smoking”, and Other Tobacco Myths

Smoke Gets in (More Than Just) Your Eyes

A man holding a box of cigarettes in front of a baby

“Smoking is bad for you” is an oft-heard phrase for a good reason. This habit is one of the main causes of deaths in Singapore.

A 2013 study showed that for people aged between 18 and 69, smokers were 1.3 times more likely to get cancer than ex-smokers or non-smokers. Smoking tobacco contributes to several different types of cancer, including lung, oral and nasopharynx (nose and throat) cancer.

Smoking tobacco also raises the risk of heart diseases and strokes. Smokers are more likely to suffer from diabetes and kidney failure, and pregnant women who smoke are more likely to experience premature and underweight births.

Related: Smoking: The Puff to Diabetes

Stub Out Smoking for Immediate Benefits

Stethoscope on a wooden table

As mentioned, it’s never too late to quit smoking. In fact, there are immediate, tangible benefits even within 20 minutes of quitting. In short, it is not good to take up smoking in the first place, but if and when you decide to quit, the benefits can be dramatic.

To find out more about how you can quit smoking, please speak to our nurses or pharmacists at Changi General Hospital’s Smoking Cessation Counselling and Service. They are on hand to help you quit the habit and lead a healthier smoke-free life. Whether you are our patient or a member of the public, our counsellors are ready to assist you.

Health benefits of quitting smoking
Health benefits of quitting smoking

The Smoking Cessation Counselling sessions are available daily from 8am–4pm for inpatients. For outpatients, the Smoking Cessation Clinic is open Mon–Fri, 2–5pm; for appointments please call 6850 3333. For further enquiries, please contact CGH outpatient pharmacy at 6850 1888.


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