May 31, World No Tobacco Day
- More than 8 million people die from tobacco every year in the world, according to the World Health Organization (1) (WHO).
- In Spain it causes more than 50,000 deaths a year and represents 13% of the total annual deaths, according to the Spanish Association Against Cancer (2) (AECC).
- And in other countries like the United States, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death, with more than 480,000 deaths annually, according to the Food and Drug Administration (3) (FDA).
Smoking kills half of its users, according to the WHO.
Among the main diseases is cancer. According to the WHO (1), tobacco could cause up to 33% of tumors globally, and is responsible for up to 22 percent of cancer deaths.
According to the AECC (2) , lung cancer is the most widespread among active and passive smokers. However, there are around 15 types of cancer that are also associated with tobacco use, such as larynx, bladder, mouth, esophagus, liver, bile ducts and stomach, among others.
Despite these alarming figures, the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (4) (SEOM) announces in its report (May 2020), ‘Cancer figures in Spain‘, that oncologists observe a certain “slow, but continuous” global trend of decline of the incidence of tobacco-related tumors due to the decrease of this habit among men in recent years. In contrast, this incidence continues to increase in women.
And as for the interest in quitting smoking …
From the FDA (3) , they ensure that about 70% of current smokers say they would like to quit smoking. Far from being easy, overcoming addiction usually takes several tries.
Dr. Gastone Zucchiatti: “A high percentage of people seeking professional help have pathologies secondary to smoking”
Dr. Gastone Zucchiatti, an expert in Smoking, treats the damage caused by tobacco in his office and offers advice to quit smoking, we will also find him passing General Medicine consultation and in the Creu Blanca Emergency Department.
As a result, why did you start doing sessions and therapies on tobacco addiction?
In my clinical practice, I have always liked to see medicine from an integral point of view. The fact that I am concerned about your general health leads me directly to ask you if you are a smoker, due to the high percentage of people who do it.
Concerned about the number of pathologies that this addiction causes, he motivated me to train myself in the different therapies that exist to help patients who want to quit smoking.
How does a session start in your practice?
The first thing I like to know is if the patient consults for his own motivation or if he comes because a doctor has recommended it. I am interested in knowing the attitude and expectation of the person before this new challenge. I always try to convey the confidence that together we will succeed and that we have many tools to successfully overcome the treatment.
We started the session with a first interview where we carried out some tests to measure the degree of nicotine addiction, as well as the level of motivation to quit smoking.
This helps make the decision about which therapy is right to start.
What is the first step to stop smoking effectively?
More than willpower, the first step in quitting smoking is being motivated. The act of smoking is a chemical dependency that can be treated pharmacologically by a specialist.
It is essential that the patient wants and understands that quitting tobacco is a necessity due to its harmful effects on health.
Is using electronic cigarettes an effective way to try to quit smoking?
The electronic cigarette is a device that has been used for several years to try to reduce withdrawal symptoms when the patient wants to quit smoking. However, both the device’s cartridge and the steam it generates contain harmful substances that, when inhaled, can produce side effects that affect people’s health. Some of these toxic substances are propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, among others.
There is great controversy surrounding the use of this. Some studies reveal that electronic cigarettes can help in the process of eliminating this habit. The use of these devices is also related to a higher number of relapses in people who had tried to overcome the addiction.
In my view, there is still not enough scientific evidence to use electronic cigarettes safely, so I do not prescribe it in my clinical practice.
What percentage of people come to the consultation when they already have tobacco-related illnesses?
A high percentage of people seeking professional help have pathologies secondary to smoking, such as high blood pressure, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sexual dysfunction, and cancer, among others.
The entire healthcare team, regardless of specialty, should encourage the patient to use a professional. The media also play a very important role in raising public awareness by disseminating medical studies.
When do you consider that a person has successfully passed therapy / treatment?
According to the WHO (1), the patient is considered to have achieved the goal when 12 months pass without the need to smoke.
Thank you very much Dr. Zucchiatti!
The help of an expert is essential to quit tobacco addiction.
What are you waiting for to get your customized treatment and thus avoid possible relapses?
Start a new smoke-free life and improve your quality of life!
(1) Organización Mundial de la Salud
(2) Asociación Española Contra El Cáncer
(3) Food and Drug Administration
(4) Las cifras del cáncer en España