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Asian Smokers in Danger

Asians are less likely to quit smoking, say international researchers. //

The bad news for Asians, who light up, came about through research involving the review of 31 previous studies on the subject and 480,125 persons.

The study to analyze smoking patterns in Asia, Australia and New Zealand was conducted by Dr. Rachel Huxley of The George Institute for International Health , Sydney Australia and colleagues.

Disturbing results of the study were that 70 percent of China’s smokers considered negligible the health effects of smoking, and that only 4 percent was aware that smoking was related to heart disease.

Other results included the finding that while two-thirds of UK smokers expressed a desire to quit, nearly three-quarters of China's 320 million smokers said they had no intention of doing so.

Twenty-two percent of men in Australia and New Zealand were current smokers and as the researchers found, so were 14 percent of women.

In Asia, men outnumbered women by higher odds; 59 percent of men smoked, compared to 3 percent of women. In general Australians and New Zealanders smoked about one-third to one-half more cigarettes than their Asian counterparts.

Coming to rates of risks, male smokers in Asia were 2.48 times more likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers, the researchers found, while male smokers in Australia and New Zealand faced a nearly 10-fold increased risk of death.

In the light of these figures Huxley warns that unless public health efforts move in to help people quit or better, prevent smoking in the first place,"160 million current smokers will die before 2050, with the vast majority of deaths occurring in China."

Tobacco is said to be the major cause of premature and preventable deaths in the world. It is currently responsible for the deaths of five million people worldwide, yearly.

Health professionals predict that if current smoking patterns co ntinue, it will cause some 10 million deaths annually by 2020. Half the people that smoke today (about 650 million people) will eventually be killed by tobacco.

In this context, getting people to quit or at least consider quitting has never been more important. One means of control is the increasing importance of the good work pharmacists can do.

In Malaysia, the Certified Smoking Cessation Service Provider (CSCSP) was set up in 2003 with the full support of the Ministry of Health, the Clearinghouse for Tobacco Control (C-Tob) and the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society.

The main objective of the CSCSP Program is to train health professionals, starting with pharmacists, to assist smokers to quit by using behavioral and pharmacological approaches.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products are available, if it is felt that these will be of help, and many pharmacies can provide other services to help smokers quit.

By showing the decrease in their Carbon monoxide (CO) levels, such monitors can initially make people aware of the damage smoking is causing their health and well being. The results can motivate smokers to continue with the program.

Unlike a GP, smokers do not need an appointment to see a pharmacist and there is usually a pharmacy nearby, who then can visit in their lunch hour or on their way home from work.

In addition to convenience, many pharmacies now also have a private consultation room, allowing for discussions away from the main part of the shop.

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