There are an estimated 1.1 billion smokers worldwide.
Amongst Canadians, that accounts for approximately 6 million individuals.

Coordinated by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control, National Non-Smoking Week has been observed in Canada since 1988 and aims to educate Canadians on the many dangers and health risks associated with smoking, prevent non-smokers from picking up the habit of smoking, provide individuals with resources to help them quit smoking, as well as denormalize the tobacco industry and aim to attain a smoke-free society.

What Makes Smoking So Addictive?

Tobacco contains a highly addictive substance known as nicotine. When nicotine travels to the brain it causes you to feel relaxed and can also elevate your mood. However, these feelings are only temporary. As soon as the nicotine leaves your body you will find yourself wanting to reach for another cigarette to help relieve things like stress and anxiety, thus causing you to become dependent on cigarettes, which, over time, turns into an addiction.

What Other Chemical Components Are in Cigarettes?

Cigarette smoke contains butadiene, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, chromium VI, formaldehyde, polonium-210, and tar. These are dangerous chemical components that are used to manufacture things such as rubber, preserve wood, and to make batteries – things that you obviously should not be ingesting. These chemicals have been known to cause various types of cancers and respiratory problems.

Health Risks Associated With Smoking

You’re likely already aware that smoking is one of the most common causes of lung cancer. However, it has many other health risks. Smoking can increase your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, puts you at risk of developing blood clots, and significantly increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Because smoking can also cause your mucus membranes to swell, you may also notice that you have trouble breathing. You can also develop a condition known as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Why Should I Quit Smoking?

As a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary urges his patients to live the healthiest lifestyles possible. That incudes healthy eating, getting regular physical activity, avoiding alcohol, and of course no smoking. By quitting smoking you avoid many of the health risks mentioned above. Smoking can also become an expensive habit, so by quitting you’d be saving yourself some extra money, too. Quitting can also give you more of a social life, as cigarette smoke can be off-putting to those around you.

I’m Having a Hard Time Quitting – What Do I Do?

Quitting smoking isn’t easy, especially if it’s a habit you’ve been doing for many years, but Dr. Ali Ghahary says with the right resources and a good support system around you, you can kick that bad habit to the curb for good.

When it comes to quitting smoking, the first thing Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends is to speak with your family physician. If you do not have a physician, Dr. Ghahary is available to see patients at Brentwood Medical Clinic on a walk-in basis only. You can find his schedule by visiting Doctors can often recommend different tips (and in some cases, medications) to help you stop smoking. Secondly, find something to distract yourself with. If you have less to do, the more likely you will be to have the urge to pick up a cigarette. Go for a walk, read a book, go to a movie, or hang out with a friend. Thirdly, be accountable. If you fail in your quest to quit smoking, know you’re not alone. In fact, it’s not uncommon to have one or two unsuccessful attempts. You may also be able to find support groups in your area. Sometimes having individuals to talk to who are going through the same thing as you can also be beneficial.

For more information on the risks associated with smoking, visit the Lung Association of Canada at @DrAliGhahary.