Nanaimo’s Marcy Stogryn, 43, started smoking when she was 13 years old. She has quit twice, but started up again in 2007 after a trip to Las Vegas. Stogryn planned to take part in Weedless Wednesday this week to see how long she could go without lighting up. But she has no intention to quit.
For 35 years, the Canadian Cancer Society has promoted National Non-Smoking Week during the third week of January with particular attention brought to the third day in the week, coined Weedless Wednesday. It’s a day to encourage smokers who are not ready to quit to practise a few skills that could help put them one step closer to butt out for good.
The percentage of the Canadian population that smokes cigarettes has dropped steadily since anti-smoking efforts began in earnest during the 1970s. In 1965, 49 per cent of Canadians over the age of 15 smoked compared to 19.9 per cent in 2011. In 46 years, 61 per cent of males who smoked has dropped to 22.3 per cent, while 38 per cent of female smokers who indulged in the habit dropped to 17.5 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.
Dr. Derek Poteryko, medical director of the Central Island Smoking Intervention Clinic in Nanaimo, sees the death and destruction that tobacco addiction causes on a regular basis in Nanaimo.
The depleting numbers of smokers in Canada and B.C., which has the lowest smoking rate in the country for the 12th year in a row at 14.3 per cent, is something Poteryko said ex-smokers should be proud of. But there is still a long way to go, especially in Nanaimo, where he estimates 19 percent of the population smoke.
Stogryn, who started smoking at 13, has quit twice, once for one year during her first pregnancy and again for seven years.
It was a question proposed to her by her boyfriend as she bundled up to go outside for a smoke in minus-25 C weather that forced her to quit the second time.
“He asked me why I was going for a cigarette and I couldn’t come up with a smart enough answer,” said Stogryn, who quit cold turkey. But then during a trip to Las Vegas in 2007 she had a puff on one cigarette and she was back to square one. Only this time she doesn’t really want to quit.
“Eventually I will, but I honestly enjoy it still too much to quit.”
Poteryko said smokers have two hurdles to jump when they are trying to kick the habit, one is the chemical addiction and the other is the psychological addiction.
“If it was purely a chemical addiction the patch, gum, inhalers would all work much better, but on paper they only work 10 per cent of the time,” said Poteryko, adding it usually takes smokers four to five good attempts before they have success.
Weedless Wednesday is about trying to change the behaviour that comes with smoking, “not about quitting smoking,” he said.
“It elevates one’s self awareness as to why they do something. It’s a challenge for a day to start to build the will power muscle. Just because you haven’t (quit) yet doesn’t mean you should give up on it.”
QuitNow provides support to British Columbians who want to quit smoking 24 hours a day, free-of-charge by phone or online. For more information, call 1-877-4552233 or visit: www.QuitNow.ca.
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