Fast Fact 1: The top two causes of death globally are;

  1. Cardiovascular disease (heart pathology).
  2. Cancer.

Fast Fact 2: Smoking costs the National Health Service (NHS) in England £2bn (R34bn!) a year for treating diseases caused by smoking.

On the 10th anniversary of the UK’s indoor smoking ban; NH21 Weekly is happy to report that the world is not flat after all, and that a reduction in smoking is (unsurprisingly) associated with better health!

A cornerstone of natural health practice is the removal of obstacles to health. Such a stance assumes, somewhat controversially, that the human body is most commonly born in perfect working order; and only begins to malfunction when lifestyle and behavioural characteristics are added to the equation later in life. In short, we often create our own ill health.

Thus we have prophylactic health (see NH21 Weekly ‘Just in case’ from 2nd June 2017) whereby preventative health measures are taken, before the onset of ill-health symptoms, to lower the chances of ever becoming sick.

An esoteric notion? Not at all… The World Health Organization state that;

“One-third of all deaths from cancer are directly due to the five leading behavioural and dietary risks; being a high body-mass-index (excess weight), low intake of fruits and vegetables, lack of physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use.” (1)

And, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, although the potential causes of cancer are numerous and complex; statistics indicate that they can be placed into the following groups; the majority of which are encouraged through factors that each individual could conceivably mitigate themselves;

  • Genetics and family history (5-10%)
  • Obesity and dietary habits (35%)
  • Environmental influences (25%)
  • Lifestyle factors (30%)

FREE WILL

Unfortunately, modern-day homo sapiens are not, it seems, inclined to implement such simple changes without a little encouragement from The Man; which duly arrived on the 1st July 2007 when smoking was banned from all indoor public places including pubs, bars, restaurants, shops and offices.

Statistics collated by Public Health England (PHE) show the number of smokers aged 35-and-over dying from heart attacks and other cardiac conditions has dropped by over 20% since 2007; and that fatalities from a stroke are 14% down. (2)

PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie, hailed the figures as proof of the ban’s huge beneficial impact on health;

“The law has played a key part in the huge cultural change we have seen in the past decade, especially among younger people, a change that has literally saved thousands from disabling chronic diseases and premature death.”

“The smokefree legislation has been extraordinary in the way we now experience and enjoy pubs, clubs, restaurants and so many other public places. It was undoubtedly the single most important public health reform in generations.” (3)

CULTURAL SHIFT

From Selbie once more;

“We’ve seen cigarettes stubbed out in public places, become far less visible in shops and had large graphic warnings put on packs starkly explaining what these things do to the human body – and all the misery and death they cause.”

“Its legacy has had a phenomenally positive impact on societal attitudes to smoking. Smokers have seized the opportunity by quitting in unprecedented numbers and of those still smoking, half have chosen to smoke outside their own homes to protect their families from secondhand smoke.”

There will always be detractors, those who feel aggrieved at the perception of a ‘nanny state’ and the rule of law diminishing their ‘human right’ to live as they please; which is true up until the inevitable point they require resource-expensive medical care.

There are others who celebrate this milestone as proof, if it were needed, that we can pay our health forward and mitigate the risk of developing unnecessary health issues; thereby freeing up precious resource and expertise for those who need healthcare for conditions that they did not bring upon themselves.

NH21 sits firmly in the latter camp, saddened only that it takes government enforcement to get such simple messages across to the masses.

Happy 10th Anniversary to the Health Act of 2006, may the figures continue to plummet for another decade and longer!

References:

  1. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/
  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jun/25/uk-heart-disease-deaths-fall-by-over-20-since-indoor-smoking-ban