What are you giving up for Lent? Forty days without tobacco

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Image provided by Department of Public Health and Social Services NCD Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.

By Dr. Annette M. David
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os

Editor’s Note: Here is an encore perspectives feature from Mar. 5, 2017 from the Non-Communicable Disease Consortium’s Tobacco Control Action Team (TCAT), in partnership with the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

Lent is a time for sacrifice and reflection, and one of the best things to give up during the Lenten season is tobacco use.

We remain an island of addiction. In 2015, Guam continued to have the highest smoking rate of all U.S. states and territories. More than one in four adults, and one in six high school students smoke in Guam. In fact, our youth smoking rate, 17%, is the same as the adult smoking rate for the US mainland! Clearly, tobacco addiction has a strong hold on our people.

Most of today’s smokers in Guam started young, before the age of 21. It’s important to protect our youth from this deadly habit, by preventing them from starting tobacco use. But equally important, we need to create a society where majority of the adults are tobacco-free, to provide our youth with positive role models.

During Lent is a perfect opportunity to give up tobacco use. Forty days of being tobacco-free can jumpstart a lifetime free from nicotine addiction. This Lent, give up smoking and other forms of tobacco use. It’s good for your body, beneficial for your family and good for your soul!

Lent is a perfect opportunity to give up tobacco use. Forty days of being tobacco-free can jumpstart a lifetime free from nicotine addiction. The positive health effects begin within 20 minutes of quitting. By 24 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood has decreased to normal, meaning your blood is already more efficiently supplying oxygen to the rest of your body. By 48 hours, your sense of taste and smell start to improve. In two weeks, circulation is better, sinuses are clearing and the lungs are beginning to heal. By 30 days, the cilia or tiny hairs that line your lungs are functioning normally again. And by the end of 40 days, your risk of heart attack has started to decline. Hopefully, at this point, you are also motivated to stay tobacco-free for the rest of your life.

Tobacco is the number one killer in Guam, causing or exacerbating the top causes of death on island – heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and lung disease. It also harms not just the smoker but also all those who breathe in the second hand smoke, and who are exposed to third hand smoke. Families of smokers are, in fact, vulnerable to many of the tobacco-related diseases because of exposure to second and third hand smoke at home. Tobacco users who quit are providing a gift of health to their loved ones.

This Lent, give up smoking and other forms of tobacco use. It’s good for your body, beneficial for your family and good for your soul!

When you’re ready to quit, call the Tobacco Free Guam Quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669). It’s FREE and available 24/7.