Smokers – What do we need?
The National Health Service is always on a mission to help smokers give up, but now it seems that some of the methods they've employed weren't helpful in getting people to give up. Meaning that all the money invested in counselling services and free patches simply didn't pay off in the end, ultimately meaning that they needn't have bothered in the first place, according to some publications. However, I don't see this as a complete and utter failure, but rather a way of slowly but surely figuring out what support people, who want to give up smoking really need. Yes, ideally it would have been nice to know exactly which buttons to push, but smoking addiction is more complicated than that, and if you are a smoker you know it better than anyone.
According to the government funded research more and more people are trying to give up smoking with the help of the NHS and spending on quit smoking initiatives have increased by more than £60 million over the last decade. Yet, the desired results aren't being produced. However, experts involved in the study feel that it sheds light on how complicated smoking addiction. There are so many factors that play a part in why we smoke. I don't think we simply smoke because we saw it on television or we smoke because our parents or friends smoke. There are many different levels to our dependency on cigarettes, bar the obvious fact that it's chemically ideal to breed addiction.
When looking at recent reports about the smoking ban in Scotland, banning smoking in public places was good move, with statistics showing a drastic reduction in the number of premature births since the ban had been implemented, largely due to a reduction in the number of smoking mothers. According to the charity ASH's (Action on Smoking and Health) Scottish branch, there has been a decrease of 18% in child asthma admissions every year since the ban. There has also been a reduction in the number of babies who are born underweight and complications during pregnancy. So clearly limiting the amount of places that people can smoke, does help, which is why charities such as the British Heart Foundation in the UK are pushing for a ban on people smoking in their cars and in their homes where children are more likely to be exposed to the effects of second-hand smoke.
Although a more extreme type of smoking ban that extends into people's homes and cars seem like a good idea, it would be intensely difficult to enforce and is largely seen by critics as an invasive move that would leave smokers feeling victimised. However, I am in favour of the proposal of a recent trial in Scotland, where they are screening people for lung cancer to help in early detection of lung cancer, in an effort to help improve survival rates. Although they will only be screening those that have been smoking for 20 years or so won't necessarily assist in younger people giving up smoking.
Ideally, to give up smoking, you have to want to give up smoking really badly, to be able to succeed. So if you aren't motivated enough, there is much less of a chance that you'll be able to quit no matter how much support you receive or patches you use. What I think the researchers involved in gathering the above NHS statistics should look into, is what could get people into making that decision in the first place. Not everyone will respond to a graphic image on a cigarette pack just like those same people might be less likely to smoke because they don't see it on television anymore. There is no one thing that will make the big change and cause all the 50 million smokers in the UK to quit simultaneously. This will never happen, which is why I think that rather than placing all our hopes in one single magic solution, there should be a combination of different efforts in practice,
that gradually seep into our culture until smoking is no longer on of the most common causes of preventable death.
So if it's the odd hospital with automated announcements barking at smokers who ignore no-smoking signs or ability to be able to call a support line, or the availability of prescription quit smoking treatments, these measures all help. Understandably multiple quit smoking measures would be costly, but it would far outweigh the risks.