31 May is World No Tobacco Day, a day to raise awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco on our health and to reduce tobacco consumption created by the World Health Organisation.
Tobacco causes 8 million deaths worldwide each year. In Victoria, tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has never been more important to quit smoking as studies show that tobacco smokers are more like to develop a serious case of COVID-19 if infected.
Quitting can be challenging, but the effects of quitting smoking start instantaneously. Within 20 minutes, heart rate and blood pressure drops. In 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Within 2-12 weeks, your circulation improves, and your lung function increases. In 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker’s.
This year’s theme is ‘commit to quit’, which was launched in late 2020 to advocate for strong tobacco cessation policies, raise awareness of the harmful effects tobacco has on the body & empower tobacco users to successfully quit smoking.
Here at Monash Health, we have our own smoke-free committee who are working on reinvigorating our smoke-free approach across our campuses. It was established in 2019 with its purpose to establish a smoke-free health service environment for the protection of the health and wellbeing of employees, contractors, patients and visitors.
The Committee developed a Smoke-free Action Plan that was endorsed by the Monash health Executive Committee in 2020. Chaired by Julia Oxley, General Manager Monash health Community, it focuses on three key areas:
- Creating and embedding a smoke-free environment
- Reducing employee smoking rates
- Supporting patients to cease smoking
A Smoke-free Clinical Sub Committee was established in 2020. It provides advice on all smoke-free clinical matters to the MH Corporate Smoke-free committee. Dr Shekhar Srinivasan, Consultant Psychiatrist, Young Persons Mental Health Service, Dandenong Hospital is the Chair. Its purpose is to facilitate and coordinate ongoing improvement in the management of smoke-free, focussing on the clinical management of nicotine dependency of patients and supporting employees who are nicotine dependent.
As a main provider of preventative health and health care we have a responsibility to reduce smoking rates and appropriately provide withdrawal management support for patients attending our service. We also have a responsibility to lead by example and demonstrate strong leadership to smoke-free to our partner organisations, employees, patients, clients, residents, volunteers, contractors, visitors and the broader community we service.
If you or someone you know is struggling to quit, contact Quitline on 13 QUIT.
For more smoke-free information and tips on how to quit, read this month’s edition of Flourish e-Magazine from Converge, which provides free access to experts Quitline counsellors and information about why stopping smoking is a good idea.
Approved by Julia Oxley