You can Smoke Alone, but Quitting takes a Community

Community Program Designed to Meet Specific Needs of Smokers In Hamilton

HAMILTON, ON, Jan. 17 /CNW/ - In honour of National Non-Smoking Week, The Hamilton Academy of Medicine is proud to introduce, It's Hamilton's Time to Quit, a campaign designed to increase awareness about local quitting resources and tools to help the community understand the support that is available, and encourage people to seek the assistance they need to stop smoking. 

A Community in Need

Hamilton is a community requiring a specific approach to smoking cessation.  Why?   Hamilton does not fit the mold - the population is diverse, and represents significant extremes in terms of health:

  • A 21 year difference in life expectancy separates some of our neighbourhoods.
  • Hamilton's overall rate of low birth weight babies is more than 30 per cent higher than the Canadian Average.
  • Between neighbourhoods, there is as much as 22 years between the average age of a person suffering a cardiovascular emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke.
  • In Hamilton, the smoking population is approximately 21 per cent - higher than the Ontario average of 19 per cent. 

"Hamilton is unique, and requires a unique approach to improving health, including quitting smoking," explained Dr. Richard Tytus, Family Physician and Past-President, The Hamilton Academy of Medicine.   "The Hamilton Academy of Medicine is leading the charge for It's Hamilton's Time to Quit - a program that represents an unprecedented collaborative effort of leading community organizations from healthcare and services, to police, pharmacy, and more.*"

The medical community considers smoking to be an addiction and a chronic disease with a pediatric onset.  It is not a lifestyle choice or habit.   It is this fact that has inspired the community to rally to support It's Hamilton's Time to Quit and raise awareness of the resources available to support quitters.

"In my practice, I see patients who struggle with tobacco addiction every day, and have witnessed the often overwhelming challenges faced by people who are trying to quit smoking," continued Dr. Tytus.  "As a community, we must be united in our efforts to support these people in their need and desire to quit.  It is inspirational to see so many organizations and individuals unified in this cause."

*The following organizations are working in collaboration to support It's Hamilton's Time to Quit: The Hamilton Academy of Medicine, Smoker's Helpline, Emergency Medical Services, Hamilton Police Service, Hamilton and District Pharmacists Association, Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN, Ontario Lung Association, Hamilton Family Health Team, Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton Public Health Services, Dell Pharmacy and St. Joseph Hospital.

The Majority of People who Smoke Want to Quit

It's Hamilton's Time to Quit encourages dialogue between health care providers and their patients - both are encouraged to initiate and engage in the discussion to ensure support and resources are in place to aid successful quitting.

To help gather the community, It's Hamilton's Time to Quit is hosting an education and support meeting to provide information to smokers... and their family and friends who will support them in their quit journey. 

Two forums will take place in February to provide vital information about smoking addiction and the quitting process, and point all quitters and their support system to the available resources in Hamilton.  For date and location details about the forums, visit www.hamiltondoctors.ca in the coming weeks. 

Everyone attending the forums will have the opportunity to sign up on site for the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division, Driven to Quit Challenge.  With hundreds of thousands currently trying to break free from their tobacco addiction in Ontario, the Driven to Quit Challenge encourages tobacco users to make a quit attempt for the month of March for their chance to win exciting prizes.  Those who stay smoke-free for the month of March are entered to win their choice of a new Honda hybrid, one of two $5,000 CAA vacation getaways and one of seven $2,000 MasterCard gift cards. Each entrant registers with a support buddy, who can qualify to win a buddy prize of a $200 MasterCard gift card.

It's Hamilton's Time to Quit!

It's Hamilton's Time to Quit is the third initiative in the It's Hamilton's Time to Get Healthy campaign.  The first two initiatives, launched in 2010, included Halt the Salt and It's Time to Get Moving.

The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the resources that are available in our community, and, ultimately, encourage people to seek the assistance they need to stop smoking.

"The goal is that all health professionals in the city of Hamilton are able to provide effective treatments for all patients who are addicted to tobacco," explained Dr. Tytus.  "Immediately, we aim to motivate and support discussion between health professionals and their patients in our community.  In the future, it is The Hamilton Academy of Medicine's hope that the government will soon join the effort by covering smoking cessation medications under provincial drug plans."

The Hamilton Academy of Medicine

The Hamilton Academy of Medicine is a local voluntary professional association funded by physicians for physicians.  The Academy binds the medical community of the Greater Hamilton Area, promoting a spirit of cooperation and unity, while meeting the educational, social and political needs of its members.   The Academy acts at the territorial branch society of District 4 of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) providing a full range of programs, services and benefits to assist member physicians. We have more than 700 members.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:  Smoking Statistics

  • Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death and illness in Ontario.
  • There are approximately 13,000 tobacco-related deaths each year in Ontario, that's 36 deaths per day. Tobacco use is responsible for 80-90 per cent of all cases of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
  • Smoking is the single most important preventable cause of lung cancer, contributing to 85 per cent of all new cases in Canada.
  • Researchers say that more than 90 per cent of lung cancers in men and at least 70 per cent in women are directly caused by smoking cigarettes.  Additionally, people who regularly breathe second-hand smoke have almost double the risk of getting lung cancer than those who avoid smoking.
  • Other respiratory symptoms associated with smoking include coughing, phlegm, wheezing, and difficulty breathing, and can lead to COPD.
  • Smoking increases a person's risk of developing heart disease and stroke by contributing to the build up of plaque in arteries, increased risk of blood clots, blood pressure, and reduced oxygen in the blood.
  • Regular exposure to second-hand smoke can increase a person's risk of contracting lung disease by 25 per cent and heart disease by 10 per cent, and is linked to the deaths of at least 1,000 Canadians every year
  • In children, the effect of second-hand smoke is associated with bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, chronic respiratory symptoms, and middle ear infections. It is also a major risk factor for SIDS - sudden infant death syndrome.

Health benefits of discontinuing tobacco use

Within 20 minutes Your blood pressure drops, your pulse returns to normal and the temperature of hands and feet stabilizes.
After 8 Hours The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops.
After 24 Hours Your chance of having a heart attack decreases.
After 48 Hours Your ability to smell and taste improves.
After 72 Hours Lung capacity increases. Breathing can become easier.
2 weeks to 3 months Your circulation improves. Walking becomes easier. Lung functioning may increase by up to 20 per cent.
1 to 9 months Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, shortness of breath may decrease. Your cilia may even begin to re-grow and that can help clean the lungs and reduce chance of infection.
1 year Risk of heart disease is cut in half.

SOURCE The Hamilton Academy of Medicine

For further information:

For more information, or to schedule an interview with Dr. Tytus, please contact:

Maryann Vasic      Kristen King
Hamilton Academy of Medicine    NATIONAL Public Relations
905-528-1640       416-848-1427
maryann@hamiltondoctors.ca    kking@national.ca  

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