By NOUMAN KHALIL
Nobody would disagree that ‘quitting smoking’ is one of the most difficult challenges in the entire world. But today the task can be an exciting and thrilling experience.
Now apart from protecting own health, quitters can also win brand new 2014 Dodge Caravan, Dodge Journey, thousands of cash prizes and much more through “Driven to Quit” challenge — a completely free of cost program of the Canadian Cancer Society, which has helped countless number of tobacco users come back to healthy lifestyle.
“Whoever is looking to quit smoking, we want to tell them that the help is there,” said Ann Burke, senior coordinator of smokers’ helpline of Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division, Central East and South Central Regions. “If they take action now, next year they will be celebrating quit smoking anniversary.”
In Canada and elsewhere in the world, ‘quitting the use of tobacco’ is considered as one of the common New Year resolutions among people of all age groups.
The “Driven to Quit” challenge encourages Ontario’s adult smokers and tobacco users to make a quit attempt for the month of March.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, nearly 16 per cent Ontarians, being smokers and tobacco users, accounting for 30 per cent of all cancer-related deaths in Canada.
However, Burke says: “It’s never too late and at some point smokers must quit the habit of smoking.”
An estimated 48,000 Canadians die every year due to smoking while tobacco-related diseases kill more Canadians than alcohol, car crashes, suicides and murders combined.
In the Region of Peel, where South Asians are high in number, Burke said the use of tobacco is comparatively low.
“Generally what we have seen is that newcomer families from South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are very low in using tobacco. And the main reason is that their seniors, and especially women of all age groups, don’t smoke,” said Burke.
She said since a large number of new immigrants from South Asian states have settled in the cities of Brampton and Mississauga, Peel’s graph of smokers is not so high.
Health Canada has also repeatedly warned about the dangers of smoking and second hand smoking.
According to Health Canada, there are more than 4,000 chemicals in second-hand smoke and at least 50 of these chemicals initiate, promote or cause cancer.
Use of ‘hukka’
Beside cigarettes and the use of pipe, centuries old ‘hukka’ is yet another instrument, which is very popular from the Persian Gulf to countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
People from these cultural backgrounds still use ‘hukka’ within the GTA Region.
‘Hukka’, which is available at many Indian or Pakistani grocery stores, has various names in different cultures. Some people call it ‘chillam’ while others name it ‘shisha’ (glass) or water pipe.
But the main function of all types is same. It’s an instrument mainly used for vaporizing or smoking plain or flavoured tobacco.
In ‘hukka’, coal is placed on top of tobacco and the smoke is passed through a water base before inhalation.
Usually there are some misconceptions about ‘hukka’. Many smokers believe it’s safer than cigarette because the smoke is filtered as it comes through water.
But Burke said it’s not safe at all.
“Anything that is burning or heated and any kind of fumes are coming out of it, it poses danger to health,” said Burke.
To register in the “Driven to Quit” challenge is quite simple.
Any current or recent past smokers, who is 19 and older, can call or visit the campaign’s website to register. The deadline for registration is Feb. 28.
“Driven to Quit” challenge provides telephone service and support in over 100 languages including Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil and Nepali.
Once registered, the person is eligible for a variety of prizes such as 2014 model Dodge Caravan, Dodge Journey, thousands of cash prizes and much more.
Interested participants may also get coupons, which they can use towards products like Nicorette patches or gums.
Smokers can also register along with their buddies — smokers or non-smokers — to support them. The buddies are also eligible for various gift prizes. The prize draw will take place the first week of April.
However, there are certain rules and winners must prove that they have remained tobacco-free for the month of March.
Participants may quit smoking or tobacco use any time after they register as long as they quit by Mar 1. Those who have recently quit may also be eligible to enter.
Since 2006, Driven to Quit Challenge has inspired more than 202,500 quit attempts, with over 37,000 during the 2012 Challenge alone.
Anyone who is ready to quit, can register at www.driventoquit.ca or by calling 1-877-513-5333.
Trash the ash: Plan to quit smoking
The “Driven to Quit” Challenge suggested the following steps to interested individuals to help them make a plan how to quit smoking:
* While winning a car is a great reason to quit, there are probably many others. Write down your reasons for quitting smoking and keep that list with you so you can refer to it often.
* No matter how good your reasons are for quitting, you may still find yourself craving a cigarette. The best way to defeat temptation is to avoid it, so change your routine and stay away from the places you used to smoke. Avoid events with a lot of other smokers by suggesting alternative social gatherings that don’t emphasize smoking.
* When withdrawal symptoms occur, remind yourself that they will only last a few days. Manage withdrawal symptoms by exercising, listening to music, drinking plenty of water and fluid, and visualize a relaxing place.
* When required, ask a friend or family member to be your support buddy. Individuals can sign up for the Driven to Quit Challenge with a buddy.
* Don’t give up. Quitting smoking is hard work and often takes many attempts.
* Reward yourself and plan special celebrations on the anniversary of your quit date. But don’t have to wait a year to treat yourself. Smaller, more frequent rewards prove to be just as beneficial. Made it to one week smoke-free? Treat yourself to a massage. One month? Go out with your support buddy for a nice meal.
By NOUMAN KHALIL