Healthy Living in the North

What are your reasons to quit?

Do you smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco? Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco is bad for your health. Are you wishing that you never started? Do you hope that your kids never start?

You are probably planning to quit someday. Why not make it today!

Do you like top 10 lists? Write your own reasons to quit or, if you need to be inspired, here are 10 reasons to quit smoking now:

  1. My health will improve within eight hours of my last cigarette.
  2. I can stop worrying about how smoking is hurting my health. I will lower my chances of getting cancer, heart disease, lung disease and other disabling diseases. I will also look younger.
  3. It’s cold outside. I won’t have to go outside in nasty weather to smoke or buy cigarettes.
  4. I will save money!
  5. My clothes, house and car won’t smell like smoke.
  6. I won’t have to live with the constant cravings to smoke or chew once I have quit.
  7. I will feel more in control of my life.

    There are many resources available for you to quit smoking today!

  8. Smoking isn’t cool anymore.
  9. I will no longer expose my friends and family to the harmful effects of second hand smoke.
  10. I will help prevent my kids from getting addicted to cigarettes or chewing tobacco.

Want more information about quitting smoking?

Visit quitnow.ca or call HealthLink 8-1-1 for free self-directed programs and many helpful tools and resources. Get free counselling by phone, text or email.

You can access free nicotine patches, gum, lozenges or inhalers through the BC Smoking Cessation Program by visiting your pharmacist. You may be eligible for prescription smoking cessation drugs at reduced cost.

Quitting smoking or chewing tobacco is the best thing you can do for your health.

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

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Creating a smoke-free community

This article was co-written by Nancy Viney (tobacco reduction, Northern Health), Rhya Hartley (City of Quesnel), and the Quesnel Healthier Community Committee. It was originally published in the Winter 2016 issue of Healthier You magazine.


Poster with information about bylaw 1767

The new smoke-free bylaw was promoted through the City’s Bylaw of the Month campaign.

The City of Quesnel promotes a healthy environment for all to enjoy. In November 2015, Quesnel City Council adopted Bylaw No. 1767 “A Bylaw to Regulate Smoking in City of Quesnel Public Spaces,” which prohibits smoking in some specific community spaces as well as designated playgrounds and playing fields where children may be at play.

Quesnel joined 59 other municipalities in B.C. who have a bylaw limiting where you can use tobacco in outdoor spaces. Although many municipalities have implemented smoking regulations, Quesnel and Dawson Creek are leaders in the north.

Why a bylaw to regulate smoking?

Quesnel supports healthy community initiatives for its residents! Through integrated processes like parks planning, active transportation planning, the recently adopted Living Wage Policy, and our active rebranding project, the City of Quesnel is positioning itself as a balanced, healthy community in which to live, work, and play. The new smoke-free bylaw and the work supported by the Partnering for Healthier Communities grant fits into this approach.

Exposure to second-hand smoke from burning tobacco products causes disease and premature death among non-smokers. Children are particularly vulnerable to second-hand smoke as they breathe faster and are exposed to even more smoke. The new bylaw reduces the harmful effects of tobacco smoke for the residents and visitors of Quesnel.

Supportive smoke-free environments help people who have quit using tobacco to remain steadfast and also encourage tobacco users to quit. Education today on the harmful effects of smoking and second-hand smoke is key to ensuring our children don’t start smoking and helps to make everyone aware of our environment.

The bylaw also helps reduce the amount of litter from butts and discarded cigarette packaging. Cigarette filters litter the ground and do not biodegrade. During the hot, dry summer months, smoke-free bylaws can also reduce the risk of fire from discarded matches and tobacco products.

Sign reading: "Healthy lungs at play"As with any new initiative, there has been some push back and enforcement issues. To date, bylaw staff in Quesnel have addressed this with education and they will be transitioning to ticketing.

The City of Quesnel partnered with Northern Health and many other community stakeholders to form the Quesnel Healthier Community Committee in 2012. In 2016, this committee received a Partnering for Healthier Communities grant from Northern Health for their “Creating a Tobacco-Free Community” initiative. The committee resolved to use the grant funding for education and to purchase and install signage in strategic public areas. The committee decided that a sign that portrayed those most at risk from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke would move the focus to social conscience.

Have questions about smoke- and vape-free outdoor public places? Learn more from the Canadian Cancer Society.

Does your local government have a Healthier Community Committee? How can your local government work with partners towards your community’s healthy living goals?

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

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The challenge of quitting smoking during pregnancy and staying quit after delivery

Woman smoking beside a field.

Avoiding tobacco use will improve the health of your whole family before, during and after pregnancy.

Want to improve your own health and protect your developing baby from the harmful effects of tobacco and tobacco smoke? Women and their partners who use tobacco during pregnancy are encouraged to quit!

Why quit?

Maternal smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth and early detachment of the placenta. Smoking is also linked to growth restriction during pregnancy and low birth weight. Although a smaller baby may mean an easier labour and delivery, low birth weight is a predictor of decreased newborn health and survival.

After a child is born, infants of women who smoke are three times more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome. Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke have an increased risk of respiratory problems and increased severity of asthma.

When to quit?

Ideally, women and their partners should quit using tobacco prior to pregnancy but if not, then it is important to quit anytime during pregnancy. Every day is a good day to quit smoking!

Support to help you quit smoking and protect your family

Although tobacco dependence is a complex addiction with many factors that make it difficult to quit, many women have been able to quit during their pregnancy.

Women are aware that smoking is not good for their health or the health of their babies and so many are very motivated to quit. It’s sometimes difficult to quit during pregnancy because:

  • Pregnancy speeds up a woman’s metabolism and she may find that she is smoking even more to relieve her cravings.
  • Pregnancy is sometimes a stressful time.
  • A woman’s social network may use tobacco and she may feel left out.

Understanding these factors may help in the development of plan to quit smoking.

Many women wonder if they can use nicotine replacement therapy such as the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge or inhalers when they are pregnant. Opinions vary on the use of these products in pregnancy so women should discuss the use of these products with their physician or pharmacist. Intermittent dosing of nicotine replacement therapies such as lozenges, gum or inhaler are preferred over continuous dosing of the patch.

It is likely that nicotine replacement therapy is safer than cigarette smoking as the mother and baby are only exposed to nicotine and none of the other 8,000+ chemicals in cigarette smoke. If you use nicotine replacement therapy instead of smoking cigarettes, the mother and baby are not exposed to the carbon monoxide that reduces oxygen uptake and flow to the developing baby.

Many women are able to quit during their pregnancy and enjoy the positive health effects that come with quitting. It’s important to plan how to stay quit once the baby is delivered as relapse is common after the baby is born.

For information and free support to help you quit, visit QuitNow, call 1-877-455-2233, or ask your pharmacist about the BC Smoking Cessation Program. Do you or a loved one have a quit story? Share it for your chance to win a Fitbit!

Let’s raise children in tobacco free families!


This article was first published in the Summer 2016 issue of Healthier You magazine. Check out the full issue below!

 

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

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World No Tobacco Day – Quit story contest

Pile of cigarettes with red ban  crossing over top

Quitting is hard, what’s your story? Share for a chance to win.

Quitting smoking is hard, what’s your story? Share it for your chance to win a Fitbit!

Today we recognize World No Tobacco Day and we can all consider making some changes in our lives towards better health. Tobacco use touches most of us, even non-smokers, as we see people in our lives light up around us and breathe in second-hand smoke. The sad truth is that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death –more than alcohol, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.

In recognition of the challenges in quitting, we’re launching a contest where you can share your quit story and be entered to win a Fitbit wireless activity wristband. This can be your personal story quitting (or trying to quit) smoking, or your experience with someone in your life doing so. Your story may encourage someone to quit!

Share your story for your chance to win!

Need some inspiration? Here’s a short quit story from Anthony of Gitwinksihlkw via QuitNow.ca:

I worked in camps at the time, on one of my times off, I got to thinking, why do I have to go so far just to have a smoke, hiding from my nephews and nieces, telling them what I do are bad for them? I got tired of being a hypocrite, so when I returned to camp before Christmas, I just did not bring any cigarettes with me. 4 weeks in camp was the hardest time in years. But I never looked back, over a year later and I feel great. 15 years I smoked, realized I was quitting for the wrong reasons in the past. I needed to quit for myself and not for others.

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

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National Non Smoking Week: Plan to make 2016 your smoke free year

QuitNow.ca logo

Want to access online support and counselling as part of your plan to quit smoking this year? QuitNow has free services available to support you!

Today is the start of National Non Smoking Week! Many tobacco users use this opportunity to quit smoking. It often takes a few tries to successfully quit smoking. The more you are prepared, the more likely it is that you will succeed.

There are many reasons why people smoke, but 70% of tobacco users want to quit and many wish that they had never started. If you have tried to quit before, think about that experience and recognize what worked and also what made you relapse.

Nicotine is a very addictive substance and causes uncomfortable withdrawal when you go for a period of time without smoking. Smoking is also a learned behaviour that you may associate with certain feelings or activities. It may also be a social activity for some. The addiction is quite complex and unique to each individual.

Because of this, I recommend that you keep a diary of your smoking prior to quitting to identify your triggers and to help you change your behavior to reduce your smoking. Record what you were doing when you decided to smoke and why you feel you need one. You may even find that you reduce the amount you smoke prior to quitting.

Try to write down your goals and how you will achieve them:

  • Are you going to use nicotine replacement therapy or other medications? If so, check out the BC Smoking Cessation Program for free products.
  • Are you going to tell your friends to gain support or are you going to keep it to yourself?
  • Are you going to access online support and counselling through QuitNow services?
  • What is your measure of success? Have you completely quit or cut back? Are you still craving?

Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. You will feel better, have more money in your pocket and no longer have to worry about quitting!

The BC Smoking Cessation Program is now easier than ever to access. As of January 1, 2016, you can get 12 weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy products (including gum, patches, lozenges, and inhalers) just by visiting any pharmacy in the province. You may also qualify for assistance for other tobacco cessation medications. For more information, visit QuitNow.ca or call HealthLink (8-1-1).

Every day is a good day to quit smoking. Plan to make 2016 your smoke free year!

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

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Teachers and parents can support children to avoid tobacco use!

If kids didn’t start smoking, the problematic use of tobacco would be a thing of the past before the end of this century!

Kids learn from an early age that tobacco is bad for their health yet every day there are young people in Canada taking their first puffs. Most smokers start using tobacco before their 19th birthday, at an average age of 13. It’s obvious that education about the harmful effects of cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco is not enough to stop kids from trying tobacco.

If you’re a teacher, maybe some of your students started smoking over the summer and they’re now suffering withdrawal in your classroom!

Some teens are persuaded to try tobacco by their peers if they are more influenced by this group than their parents. They may not be aware that the first puffs of a cigarette or a flavoured cigar may lead to a lifetime of nicotine addiction. Three out of four young smokers will continue to smoke into adulthood.

How can you support children and youth in your community to avoid tobacco use?

How can you support children and youth in your community to avoid tobacco use?

It only takes a few cigarettes to make changes in the teenage brain, leading to cravings and continued use of tobacco. Even though many teens do not smoke daily, they still have difficulty quitting.

Teachers and parents can support children to avoid tobacco use with conversations about:

You have a role in supporting a tobacco free community! Northern Health supports the cultural and ceremonial use of smoke, tobacco and other legal sacred plants and recognizes the benefits of traditional and spiritual uses can outweigh the potential harms.

For more info, check out QuitNow or email tobaccofree@northernhealth.ca.

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

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Want to quit smoking? Quitnow services can help!

Man chops novelty size cigarette with axe

Give tobacco the axe!

As a health care provider, I have witnessed, firsthand, the devastating effects of tobacco.  I tried smoking as a teen and I’m aware of how easily people can become addicted. Because of my experience with tobacco, I encourage people to quit as soon as possible. There is evidence that people who quit smoking in January are more likely stay quit! A new year and new plans may be the key the motivation!

People quit for many reasons – primarily because it’s the best thing you can do for your health. Although quitting can be difficult, even the most addicted tobacco users have been able to escape this addiction.

Whether you use tobacco yourself, or you care about someone who smokes or chews tobacco, take some time to visit Quitnow and explore this comprehensive website that features information and support to help you quit. You can also access the most up-to-date information; receive personal counselling online, by phone or by text; and join peers and experts on chats and forums. Quitnow offers one-to-one counselling by a “Quit Coach” who will work with you to develop a personalized quit plan. There’s also a 24/7 help line that you can access whenever you need to talk to someone who understands what it’s like to quit smoking.

The website has tools and resources to help you plan your quit strategy and develop a personal attack on your addiction. You will learn more about your addiction by taking the addiction quiz to help you understand why you smoke or chew and increase your motivation to live tobacco free.  There is also a cost calculator that shows the financial cost of smoking and how much more money you will have in your pocket when you quit.

You may want to learn about the medication that can help you quit. Quitnow has information about using the nicotine patch and other nicotine replacement therapies, as well as cessation medication, such as Champix and Zyban. These medications may help you manage withdrawal while you are quitting.

Quitnow has recently added information to support people who are quitting tobacco to prepare for surgery. This information was added to support Northern Health’s Stop Smoking Before Surgery Initiative. Northern Health is working together with BC Cancer Agency and the Canadian Cancer Society to ensure that patient are aware of the benefits of being tobacco free before surgery, such as decreasing complications and infections, and shortening their hospital stay.

Quitnow is operated by the BC Lung Association and supported through grant funding from the BC Ministry of Health, under the Healthy Families BC initiative. You can depend on Quitnow services to provide accurate tobacco cessation information and support.

If you use tobacco, you likely want to quit – maybe not today, but soon. I urge you to consider setting a quit date!

Contact Quitnow services online or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to connect with a counsellor.

Remember, you can help support your healthy habits with a $300 GC by entering our photo caption contest.

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

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May is National Hypertension Month – how’s your blood pressure?

Measuring blood pressure

High blood pressure is both preventable and treatable! Early detection is key.

Do you remember when your blood pressure was last checked? I checked my own blood pressure this morning! I’ve made it part of my routine.  High blood pressure is sometimes called the silent killer and I don’t want it sneaking up on me.

It’s called the silent killer because many people don’t know that their blood pressure is high. They may not have any symptoms of the problem.  Early detection is key to preventing damage to your body that could cause early death.

You can easily find out what your blood pressure is! You probably know of places in your community where you can check your blood pressure: many pharmacies have a blood pressure testing centre or you can visit your health care provider. You can also purchase your own blood pressure monitor and check it at home. I have several people in my family who have high blood pressure and they take medication to lower their blood pressure.

Blood pressure chart

The range of normal and abnormal blood pressure. Click the table to visit our hypertension fact sheet for more details.

There are other things that you can do to lower your blood pressure:

  • Reduce salt intake; avoid processed foods
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Reduce your alcohol intake
  • Do not use tobacco products
  • Increase physical activity
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Want some more tips about measuring blood pressure and understanding the results? Check out my hypertension fact sheet! Don’t let hypertension sneak up on you!

And for more information visit:

 

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

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Quit smoking with Tobacco Free Tuesdays

Tobacco Free Tuesdays

Take the Tobacco Free Tuesday challenge to quit and win!

If you’re a tobacco user and are thinking about quitting, make Tuesday, March 5 your next Tobacco Free day!

QuitNow is offering a contest to encourage you to quit for 24 hours on the first Tuesday of the month. Many people have quit smoking and you can too!

I have been providing tobacco cessation counselling for over 10 years and I know that most tobacco users want to quit but sometimes have a difficult time committing to never using tobacco again. It usually takes several quit attempts to escape the addictive grip of smoking or chewing tobacco. This contest encourages current smokers and ex-smokers to remain tobacco free for 24 hours. It’s kind of like a test run to build confidence and learn about quitting.

If you can stay quit for 24 hours, maybe you will plan a permanent quit. QuitNow.ca has tons of information and resources to help you stay quit.

If you are a smoker or ex-smoker, enter by 11:59p.m. on March 5 to be eligible for one of five prizes. Complete the registration form online or phone QuitNow services at 1-877-455-2233.There are five prizes awarded each month.

If you use tobacco and would like to quit, why not give it try? If you don’t use tobacco, tell someone who does about the contest. We encourage everyone living in the north to have a role in a tobacco-free community!

Did you know that free nicotine patches and free nicotine gum are available through the BC Smoking Cessation Program for all British Columbians? Simply call Health Link BC at 8-1-1 to get these free products. For more information about this program, visit the Ministry of Health website.

And remember March 5, 2013 – make it your Tobacco Free Tuesday!

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

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NH smoke-free grounds policy: Let’s do it right too!

At the end of 2012, Vancouver Coastal Health authority launched their fantastic new video to promote their tobacco reduction messages, using the music of Tom Lavin.

When I saw the video for the first time, I thought, we need a video like this for Northern Health! The music is great and everyone is involved.

Watch the Vancouver Coastal Health video:

Northern Health’s smoke-free grounds policy was developed to protect everyone from the harmful effects of second hand smoke. There is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke and even the odour of smoke on clothing (third hand smoke) is harmful. It’s important for staff, physicians, patients and visitors to ensure that our facilities provide a safe environment for health and healing without tobacco smoke and the lingering toxic odour of smoke.

So what is it like for patients who normally smoke? The average smoker will start having cravings to smoke within 30-60 minutes of admission. They may develop a headache, restlessness, irritability, inability to concentrate and other discomforts of withdrawal.

When our patients who smoke are admitted to our facilities, it’s important to minimize the discomfort of their withdrawal symptoms. The Nicotine Withdrawal Protocol should be implemented on admission; patients are offered Nicotine Replacement Therapy products (NRT), such as patches, gum and/or inhalers to decrease their withdrawal symptoms. If cravings persist, the dose can be increased or the patch can be combined with the gum or inhaler. It’s like pain control and withdrawal should be treated like pain!

Patients who experience comfort without the constant need to smoke may even decide to quit, but for now they will feel better and heal faster. Being in an environment where no one is smoking also reduces the desire to smoke!

Tobacco kills half of all its users and many of the patients in our facilities are there because of tobacco-related illnesses. Let’s all work together to escape the harmful effects of tobacco and tobacco smoke.

What can staff do?

  • Ask all patients about tobacco and treatment for withdrawal – make it a standard of care.
  • Use the 5A’s approach: Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist and Arrange.
  • If you smoke, do not smoke on the hospital grounds. Remind your co-workers to smoke off NH property.
  • Ask yourself: Do my clothes smell like smoke? If they do, consider changing after breaks.
  • Consider using NRT or cessation medications while at work.
  • Think about quitting – you can do it!

What can patients do?

  • Ask for the nicotine patch, gum and or inhaler to help you feel more comfortable.
  • Refrain from smoking on the hospital grounds.
  • Think about quitting.
  • Phone Healthlink BC at 8-1-1 for free patches or gum.
  • Visit www.quitnow.ca.

If you like videos, Dr. Mike Evans from Toronto has a good one that might help you quit: “What is the single most important thing you can do to quit smoking?”

Enjoy and live tobacco free!

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

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