Nearly 1,000 people die every day in eight Latin American countries due to smoking


Cigarette consumption causes 960 deaths per day in eight Latin American countries, in addition to the millions of dollars in costs associated with the care of smoking-related diseases, according to a study. The research, led by the Institute of Clinical and Health Effectiveness (IECS), in Buenos Aires, in collaboration with research centers, universities, and public institutions from different countries, was carried out in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru.

According to the study, smoking causes 123 deaths per day in Argentina; 52 in Chile; 83 in Colombia; 443 in Brazil; six in Costa Rica; 19 in Ecuador; 173 in Mexico and 61 in Peru. Thus, deaths associated with smoking have an incidence of between nine percent, as in the case of Costa Rica, and 22%, as in Peru, of the total number of deaths of people over 35 years of age in the region. "Smoking is a major public health problem and in order to address it efficiently with public policies it is necessary to have evidence that quantifies its impact," said the executive director of the IECS, Andrés Pichon-Riviere.

Diseases caused by cigarette smoking

The research, financed by the International Development Research Centre of Canada and the Institute of Cancer Research of the United Kingdom, also details the number of people who fall ill each year in the region as a result of smoking or exposure to smoke emitted by others (passive smoking). In Argentina, this problem causes some 225,000 cases per year of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, pneumonia, heart disease, and strokes.

In Chile, 120,000 people fall ill each year; in Colombia, 164,000; in Brazil, 1.1 million; in Costa Rica, 16,000; in Ecuador, 50,000; in Mexico, 429,000; and in Peru, 125,000.

Millionaire cigarette costs

The research also determined that in the eight countries included in the study, the costs of smoking to the health systems and the economy, including direct medical care expenses for the diseases it causes, lost labor productivity and family care, amount to a regional total of 46,346 million dollars.

In the different countries studied, tax revenues from cigarette taxes barely cover between five and 30% of the total economic losses caused by smoking. "In general, the price of cigarettes is low in Latin American countries and there is room to increase tobacco taxes," said economist Alfredo Palacios, coordinator of Health Economics at the IECS.

Palacios, the lead author of the study, noted that, in fact, "the World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that increasing the price of tobacco products through taxes is the best measure to dissuade their consumption and reduce their harmful impact on society". In this sense, the study projected that in the eight countries analyzed, raising the price of cigarettes by 50% through taxes would have a total economic benefit over 10 years of 61,870 million dollars and could prevent 278,721 deaths over the course of a decade.

Quitting smoking can be done. Your health improves when you stop tobacco use

If you want to quit smoking, there are many ways to quit and many ways to help you quit. Family members, friends, and co-workers can be very supportive, but to succeed, the main thing is to be convinced and have the desire to quit.

Most people who have been able to successfully quit smoking make at least one unsuccessful attempt in the past. These attempts should not be seen as failures but as learning experiences. Here are some tips for quitting smoking.

Do you feel ready to quit smoking?

First, set a date to quit smoking completely that day. Before that date, start cutting back on cigarettes. You can make a calendar and follow it day by day, marking your progress until you reach your goal day. Make a list of the reasons why you want to quit. Include both short-term and long-term benefits. Analyze them and see the benefits to your physical and mental health.

Identify the times when you are most likely to smoke, for example: Do you tend to smoke when you are stressed? When you are out in the evening with friends? When you are drinking coffee or alcohol? When you are bored? When you are driving? Immediately after a meal or having sex? During a break at work? While you are watching TV or playing cards? When you are with other smokers? Start avoiding doing it every time you are in each of these situations.

Tell all your friends, family, and coworkers about your plan to quit and the date to start. It can help to let them know what you're going to go through, especially when you're grumpy. Get rid of all cigarettes just before your quit date and clean up anything that smells like smoke, such as clothing and furniture.

Make a plan

Make a plan for what you will do instead of smoking at those times when you are most likely to smoke. Be as specific as possible. For example, drink tea instead of coffee, since tea may not trigger the desire for a cigarette, or take a walk when you feel stressed. Remove ashtrays and cigarettes from the car and place cookies or hard candy in their place. Take a straw and pretend to smoke to reduce cravings.

Find activities that occupy your hands and mind, but are not strenuous or fattening. Computer games, solitaire, knitting, sewing, and crossword puzzles can help. If you normally smoke after eating, find other ways to finish a meal. Listen to music, eat a piece of fruit, get up and make a phone call or take a walk (a good distraction that also burns calories).

Change your lifestyle

Make other lifestyle changes. Change your daily schedule and habits. Eat at different times or eat several small meals instead of three large ones. Sit in a different chair or even in a different room. Decrease the craving to smoke by eating vegetables such as celery, carrots, broccoli, jicama, etc.

Go to public places and restaurants where smoking is prohibited or restricted. Eat regular meals and do not eat too many sweets or sweet foods. Exercise more, walk or ride a bicycle. Exercise helps you relieve the urge to smoke.

Set some goals

Set short-term goals to quit smoking and reward yourself when you achieve them. Every day, put the money you normally spend on cigarettes in a jar. Then buy something you like.

Other tips

You can find more tips and programs to quit smoking on the internet. Consult it and follow it, it can be of great help. The best thing to do is to try to quit naturally, but if you need support, ask your doctor about how he/she can help you to quit smoking.

Above all, do not get discouraged if you are not able to quit smoking the first time. Nicotine addiction is a hard habit to break. Try something different next time. Develop new strategies and try again. Many people try several times before they finally kick the habit. You can do it and regain your health.