This year’s focus of World No Tobacco Day, which takes place at the end of May, will be on the impact that tobacco use has on cardiovascular health. As a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary encourages patients to live healthy lifestyles which not only includes healthy eating and getting regular physical activity, but also quitting smoking – because the healthier life you live, the better your quality of life will be.

Smoking Statistics

There are as many as 1 billion smokers worldwide. According to a health survey released by Statistics Canada in 2017, an estimated 17.7 percent (or approximately 5.3 million) of Canadians are smokers, beginning as early as age 12. While smoking rates have been falling steadily in Canada over the last few years, it’s still an urgent problem that needs to be addressed. Smoking kills more than 37,000 Canadians each year. In fact, smoking causes more deaths every year than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle accidents and firearm-related incidents combined.

Smoking and Cancer

While some think that lung cancer is one of the only types of cancer directly caused by smoking, tobacco use can actually cause cancer in any part of your body. This includes bladder cancer, blood cancer, cervix cancer, colon cancer, esophagus cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and stomach cancer.

Smoking and Respiratory Health

Respiratory problems are common among smokers. Common lung diseases that arise include emphysema, chronic bronchitis and COPD – also known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Smoking can also trigger asthma, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness or chest pain.

Smoking and Cardiovascular Health

If you’re a smoker, you’re at a very high risk of developing diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels – also known as cardiovascular disease. This includes everything from coronary heart disease and stroke. A stroke occurs when a clot forms and blocks the blood’s flow to the brain, or when a blood vessel bursts in or around the brain. Blockages related to smoking can also reduce the blood flow to your skin and legs. For more information on cardiovascular health, visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

How to Quit Smoking

While quitting smoking can be challenging, it’s important to ensure your health thrives. Anyone who quits smoking may experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, difficulty sleeping and lack of concentration, but it’s important to remember that these symptoms are only temporary. For more helpful smoking cessation tips from Dr. Ali Ghahary, click here.