This year, World No Tobacco Day will take place on May 31 with the theme, “Tobacco Industry Interference”
In Singapore, the Health Promotion Board recently announced new measures to curb smoking starting from March 2013. A new set of graphic health warnings will be extended to the outer packaging of tobacco products and misleading descriptors such as “light”, “low-tar” and “mild” will no longer be allowed on tobacco packaging. This action is taken to remove the misconception that ‘light’ cigarettes are a safer and healthier option.
Smoking is one of the preventable leading causes of death. Smokers usually have chronic bad breath and discolored teeth because these chemicals cause a significant reduction of saliva flow. Saliva is essential for cleaning the mouth and teeth. Nicotine and sticky tar are deposited on the teeth, causing brown stains that cannot be removed by brushing alone.
Bad breath and teeth discoloration are just some of the oral consequences of lighting up that cigarette. Smoking promotes the buildup of plaque and tartar, increasing the rate at which gum and bone tissue are destroyed. This essentially means that a smoker is not only more highly predisposed to periodontal (gum) disease; he/she also experiences irreversible accelerated deterioration of gum tissue and bone caused by gum disease.
Smoking is also the leading cause of oral cancer. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, at least 75% of those diagnosed at 50 years of age or older are tobacco users. The death rate associated with this type of cancer is particularly high because it is difficult to detect, with patients reporting that they feel no pain or discomfort. It is also known to have one of the highest rate of relapse, with patients being at risk for 5 – 10 years after their first encounter with oral cancer. Thus, if you are a heavy smoker, always watch out for symptoms such as: a lump in your mouth (i.e. gum and lips), ulcers that do not get better in 2 to 3 weeks, unexplained bleeding in your mouth, ear pain, change in your bite and also white/red/pink patches on your lips.
The signs above may be able to be confirmed by your dentists/doctors after a detailed examination with the help of radiographs (x-rays). Knowing how much damage smoking can cost you, it is best not to start smoking at all. However, if one has started and has a hard time to stop the habit, get professional help! According to the World Health Organization, there is approximately a 84% increased chance of quitting successfully after being intensively advised by a physician.
If you love yourself and people around you, every day should be ‘World No Tobacco Day’.