Healthy Habit Challenge: Create a smoke-free environment at home, and in the car. Tell others that these places will now be smoke-free

Topic Progress:

Your healthy habit challenge for Week 10 is to clean the air!  Create a smoke-free environment at home, and in the car. Tell others that these places will now be smoke-free (i.e. guests smoke outside, away from entryways, no smoking in car - even if windows down, etc.)

Why Go Smoke Free?

Did you know that smoking affects every organ in the body? And, not in a good way. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 deaths are attributed to smoking. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer are directly related to smoking, but a smoker also has an increased risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, asthma, and even cancers of the bladder, blood, cervix, kidneys, liver, and more.

In addition to all of the direct effects on the smoker’s body, sidestream smoking, or secondhand smoking, is also associated with cancers of the larynx, brain, stomach, breast and rectum as well as asthma and other lung problems of the person not smoking. And, further along, thirdhand smoke, or smoke left in the environment after the smoke is no longer there (like the skin, walls, furniture, etc.), is also dangerous to anyone that comes into contact with it. With over 250 chemicals in this residue, children are most at risk for these harmful toxins. Therefore, smoking does not only harm the person smoking the cigarette but also everyone around them.

How to stop

Now that we have established why smoking is so harmful, let’s talk about ways to kick the habit. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an important first step is to set a date within the next month to quit smoking. This makes the goal achievable and allows you to wrap your head around the day chosen. In addition to a deadline, it is important to consider your support team. You want people to get behind you and encourage you through this process and not get in your way.  Make sure to share your goals and tell others how they can support you. When you get to your quit date, the ACS has 4 tips to help you overcome the powerful urge to smoke:

  1. Delay - aim for a 10 minute wait time and then reassess
  2. Deep breathing exercises - take deep breaths through your nose and out your mouth. Allow your body to relax.
  3. Drink water - this process will help with the behavioral addiction.
  4. Do something else - simply getting your mind off of the craving will help overcome the urge.

What if you are not the one smoking?

Awesome! And, don’t start! But, what if someone around you does smoke? Let’s talk about ways to keep your environment healthy. First off, encourage them to smoke outside of the house. This will at least allow for a reduction in the toxins in the home. In addition to not smoking in the house, adding a jacket, like a “smoking jacket,” to catch some of the toxins exhausted from smoking can help in reducing the toxins on the skin that contribute to third-hand smoke. Better yet, encourage the person to change clothes and thoroughly wash hands and other affected parts.  This will minimize exposure. While some of these ideas may not be achievable, it is most important to reduce the toxin exposure to the most vulnerable populations like infants and toddlers. Therefore, at the very least, proper hand washing should be implemented at all times.

References:

  1. (2018). Health effects of cigarette smoking. CDC. Retrieved online: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm.
  2. (2018). Health risks of secondhand smoke: what is secondhand smoke. ACS. Retrieved online: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/tobacco-and-cancer/secondhand-smoke.html
  3. (2018). How parents can prevent exposure to thirdhand smoke. Healthychildren.org. Retrieved online: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/tobacco/Pages/How-Parents-Can-Prevent-Exposure-Thirdhand-Smoke.aspx
  4. (2018). Deciding to quit smoking and making a plan. ACS. Retrieved online: https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/guide-quitting-smoking/deciding-to-quit-smoking-and-making-a-plan.html