AMHERST – You may have failed the first time you tried to quit, and maybe failed a few times after that. But with the nation in the midst of National Non-Smoking Week, it could provide smokers with a bit more of an initiative to finally, and permanently, butt out their nicotine-filled habit.
“It’s one of the hardest addiction to overcome,” said John Rossong, clinical manager for Addiction Services.
Since the smoke-free week was started 35 years ago, Rossong said it has seen great success with getting people to put down the cigarettes.
“I remember hearing about it when I was young and people talking about Weedless Wednesday,” he said about the Wednesday of the quitting week that is supposed to help promote the ‘one day at a time’ approach. “I think what it was was a beginning of a movement that has had incredible results.”
Rossong said when the campaign first started, the results weren’t as good. As a society, it was quite common to smoke but now society has come along away and has seen the number of smokers decrease.
“We’ve gone from a place where it was acceptable behaviour and now it’s at a point where it’s not necessarily the norm,” he said. “Our smoking rate right now in Nova Scotia is about 23 per cent of the adult population, which is high. I believe the national average is around 18 per cent.”
Since there have been policy changes around smoking and price increases, Rossong said there has been a real movement to encourage smokers to kick the habit.
“I also think there are some people that are recognizing the negative health effects of smoking,” he said. “There is an incredible amount of scientific evidence that suggests the health hazards of smoking and tobacco. I think people actually know that now, and I think people in health promotion and the people in health prevention have been able to educate the community very effectively on the negative side effects.”
In fact, to try and encourage smokers to take more steps towards quitting, more promotional ads have come out that Rossong feels carry a very effective message.
“You see ads where there are people outside smoking alone and I think that’s a very honest representation of what’s happening.”
Any smoker looking to join Non-Smoking Week can do so with a bit of help. The Canadian Cancer Society has a free and confidential smoker’s helpline at 1-877-513-5333. Lines are open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, Fridays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cigarette packs also have a smoker’s helpline at 1-866-366-3667. They also have a website: gosmokefree.gc.ca/quit. There are also support groups offered through Addiction Services throughout the county.