If you go for a walk outside, you will probably pass a smoker along the way. Although the number of smokers appears to be declining as more and more education and prevention strategies are available, it is still a major health issue in today’s society. The health consequences for smoking are serious and significant. There are more than 440,000 deaths a year related to smoking and an additional 50,000 deaths from second hand smoke. Health concerns resulting from smoking are not only linked obviously to your lungs but also; to your heart, your reproductive organs, your blood (eg. leukemia), your eyes (eg. cataracts), just to name a few examples. Along with the usual health problems associated with smoking (allergies, asthma, infections), second hand smoke from friends or family members particularly affects children. Infants and children are at higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome and early childhood caries when they are exposed to the smoke of others. Don’t forget also, third hand smoke, which is when residual toxins from the cigarettes are deposited on surfaces throughout the homes even after the cigarette is no longer lit. The toxins lingers in the air for months and the well being of children who play in these contaminated areas are jeopardized.
The Children’s Oral Care Centre strongly supports the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s recommendations for smoking prevention. We take interests in regular screening for tobacco use, prevention strategies for children and adolescents and treating any tobacco dependency within this population because shocking statistics tells us that, today 20% of high school students use tobacco (including smokeless forms) and 90% of adult smokers began before the age of 19. Every day 3,600 teenagers between the ages of 12-17 will try smoking and of those 1,100 will become regular users. As pediatric dentists, we are concerned about the large number of adolescent smokers who expose themselves to negative oral health outcomes, including smell and taste reductions, staining of teeth, leukoplakia, coated tongue, oral cancer and periodontitis.
One effective way to spread the word “no” to tobacco in the young generation is through technology! QuitNow is a province wide quit smoking resource that provide services and scientifically-proven support for smoking cessation http://www.quitnow.ca/. The BC Lung Association’s QuitNow program can also be found on your phone so you can have access to this support system at any time anywhere! You can even sign up for text messaging support, participate in monthly contests and join their facebook group to interact with and share stories with others who are trying to quit themselves. Another great resource for quitting is your pharmacist, they are usually within close distance and you don’t need an appointment to speak with them for advice and support with smoking cessation.
There is no better time than now to look into smoking cessation for you and those you care about, like your teenage sons or daughters. Share with them these resources and show them your support!
Copyright 2013 The Children’s Oral Care Centre