I spent 40 years working as an anesthesiologist. Too much of that time was spent caring for smokers while they underwent horrible, disfiguring and disabling operations, such as removing part of a lung or an amputation.
These operations were only necessary because my patients began to smoke as teenagers, and were unable to quit in middle age when tobacco smoking started to cause irreversible damage to their bodies.
In a compassionate society, we should not allow people to suffer so much for mistakes they made in their youth. We know that if we can get people to stop smoking in their 40s, they have a very good chance of avoiding disease, disability and death from tobacco smoking.
15% of Canadians still smoke, and 48,000 of them die every year as a result. January 16th is the start of Canada’s National No-Smoking week, but this is not listed on Health Canada’s website. It seems as if Health Canada has given up on trying to help people to quit smoking. They committed to a goal of reducing the prevalence of smoking to 5% by 2035 but they have no plan to meet that target. Even if they fully implement all their current policies, they will fall a long way short of that goal.
Surely everyone can agree that the status quo is totally unacceptable? Current tobacco control and smoking cessation programs chip away at the edges of the problem, slowly decreasing smoking rates in rich countries but globally the total number of smokers still increases. When people in developing countries start to earn more money than they need for food and shelter, they start to spend the extra money on “luxuries” such as cigarettes.
What should we do? More of the same seems an unsatisfactory answer. It is time for a new approach, based on science.
Dr. John Oyston – Dr John’s Blog – 2022-01-17.