Hi, and welcome to the podcast channel for podcastmybusiness.com.au. And today I’m joined by Dr. Sarah White from www.quit.org.au to clarify please tell me your name and postion please So I’m Dr. Sarah white, and I’m the director of https://www.quit.org.au/. Thank you very much for that. Okay, so you’re joining us today because it was National Quit Day or Victorian Quit day just a couple of days ago.
It’s actually world no tobacco day. I’m not sure why that’s not in your calendar Tony. But it’s world no tobacco day.
Tony skinner 00:44
Okay, well, there you go. Look, I guess there’s so many days for so many things. And there are countries around the world where tobacco smoking is a lot higher than it is in Australia. So your campaigns have been pretty effective.
Yeah, look around the world, tobacco control has been a really effective measure. And there’s still you know, I think we’re expecting something like a billion deaths this century from tobacco use. So it’s absolutely critical across the world.
In Australia, we’ve come down from about one in three Australians smoking 30 years ago, down to around about one in 10 smoking every day. So that’s a pretty significant drop.
Tony skinner 01:24
That is huge. And so what do you put that most of it down to?
It’s really a comprehensive package. I think it’s probably not one thing. But we’ve seen as the price go up, and a lot of smokers will complain about that, of course. So price goes up.
You see those big campaigns, those television led mass media campaigns, what they do is they shape cultural norms and social norms around smoking. They deter kids from starting and they motivate smokers to give up. We’ve also seen, of course, regulatory, or legislative changes, like plain packaging, taking out advertising and promotion of tobacco and creating smoke free spaces and all of those things together is actually what’s really driven the smoking prevalence down.
Tony skinner 02:11
It’s quite interesting. A year ago, also, when COVID first hit, I was doing podcast interviews, and I didn’t want to talk about COVID, because you want to have content evergreen, and let’s face it COVID is going to be talked about for the next 100 years. Yeah. And you guys in particular, because at the moment, the latest lockdown has been extended again.
Yeah, that’s right. We’re in lockdown for and it’s just literally today been extended for another week.
Tony skinner 02:44
So I’ve always thought that the time not to give up something is not when you’re stressed. But anytime I guess is a good time to give up smoking.
Yeah, it is true anytime is a good time to give up smoking for your health and also your wealth. And right now, of course, there’s a lot of Victorians who aren’t getting federal support. People who are casuals, or you know, mostly people are casuals, it’s really tough.
So, if you’re spending around about four and a half to anywhere up to $9,000 a year smoking, then right now, it’s a tough time to sustain that. And I guess the jury’s still a little bit out about whether a time like this is a good time to try and do something like quitting smoking or not.
On one hand, there’s stress and other things to deal with. But on the other hand, you’ve actually got a really strong motivation. And you’re not in your new, your usual routine. So you’re not going out on Friday night, or Saturday night with friends.
You’re not having a cigarette with colleagues at work on a smoko break, you are actually at home and that changing routine can be a good time to try and make a positive change. It’s really going to depend on the individual circumstances, I think.
Tony skinner 03:57
Yeah, absolutely. And I smoked many, many years ago. I guess lots of people did. And I never used to smoke a lot. But certainly going out and drinking with friends was a huge catalyst for that.
Yeah, that’s right. And so a lot of people now we’re at home with kids, particularly Victoria at the moment where we’re doing homeschooling.
And if you can’t smoke in your home, and you don’t have those smoking outlets that you would normally have, say at work or going out on the weekend. Actually, it’s a really good time to try and use what you the situation that you’re in to make that change. But it is a hard change to make for some people.
Tony skinner 04:35
Yeah. So what are your best tips to try and quit?
Yeah, so I think a lot of people don’t appreciate that there are actually two aspects around being a smoker. So one is an addiction to nicotine and that’s really that chemical addiction to having nicotine go to the brain.
And then the other part of it though, is more a habit or an emotional trigger. So We often have people who smoke because they’re bored or they’re stressed, or when they get angry, they use cigarettes to manage feelings and emotions.
And then others are really deeply conditioned around habits. You know, I have a cup of coffee in the morning and I have a cigarette with my cup of coffee. So to quit successfully, you have to address both of those aspects of addiction.
So we talked to people about the far and away that the evidence shows the best way to try and make a quit attempt successful is to go and see your GP or pharmacist about getting a basically a nicotine replacement therapy is something that helps wean your brain off the nicotine, and then to call the quit line.
And that’s what quit line does is they have really highly trained counselors who can help you identify the things that for you are triggers for smoking, and come up with a plan that’s going to work in your context.
So it can be as simple as if you get up in the morning to have a cup of coffee. Don’t go outside onto the porch to have your cup of coffee and cigarette, make sure you stay inside. And sometimes those really simple little changes are what can help to start reprogram that habits and behaviors around smoking. Putting those two together is absolutely the best tip.
Tony skinner 06:13
Absolutely, because you’re right, it is a habit forming thing. So what about e cigarettes? I’ve got friends that claim that e cigarettes are helping them again. Yeah, they’re doing as much as you used to.
Yeah, look, the evidence is still emerging on E cigarettes or vaping. But they’re clearly not harmless. There’s no doubt about that. Really, what we want people to be doing is, is not breathing in what’s in lots of chemicals from an aerosol from an electric device.
There are some people who have been helped to stop smoking, but the challenge is that you are still addicted to nicotine. So when I talked about those changing the nicotine addiction and the habits, my concern is that vaping isn’t changing the nicotine addiction, and you still have a lot of the same habits, you still have that same hand to mouth action, the inhalation action.
So my concern is that some people are able to get off smoking with vaping when it’s used as part of like a medically supervised attempt and with the counseling included, but I think it’s actually keeping a lot of people trapped in nicotine addiction, because they’re simply moving from cigarettes to vapes, rather than breaking the nicotine addiction.
And I think that’s really a concern and something where we’re worried about. And then of course, the really big problem is that we’re seeing really significant increase in use by teens.
The Australian teen smoking rate at the moment is something like 2% we’re seeing an extraordinary increase in the number of kids who are experimenting with vaping they’re really falling for some of the predatory marketing tactics that are being used. And, you know, the fear really, is that we end up with a new generation of nicotine addicts.
Tony skinner 08:02
Yeah, and that’s the challenge, isn’t it? So would e cigarettes be a pathway to nicotine proper?
Too cigarette smoking? Yeah, so the international evidence is absolutely showing a gateway effect and studies uh, you know, even from the UK, where it was a 12 fold increase for kids who start vaping whether they go on to smoke.
I think the general consensus now for a lot of studies is that kids who start vaping are three times more likely to smoke and that’s after controlling for things like risk taking behavior so that there’s definitely a an increase in the use of smoking after vaping.
The last big study we did on this with Australian secondary school students showed that 48% so nearly one in two people who had tried vaping had never touched a cigarette before they tried vaping. So we really have a lot to lose in Australia, if we don’t control the availability of E cigarettes.
Tony skinner 09:04
So is vaping the new cool?
Yeah, sadly, I think it is the new cool, and they’re certainly being promoted on social marketing. There’s a lot of influences being used. We’re seeing vaping now in video games, streaming content on places like Netflix, where you no one has to assume that it’s paid product placement because good old tobacco companies have done for a long time and the e cigarette companies,
which are by and large, the same companies using exactly the same tactics so we’re seeing kids able to get their hands on E cigarettes with flavors like you know, tiramisu and unicorn vomit apparently is big, blueberry, things like that.
And they brightly colored devices, and they’re really, really hard to pick up which kids using them. So we’re being contacted by school teachers and principals. Who are suspending kids left, right and center. And that’s actually not an exaggeration.
They’re using e cigarettes in schools, even in classroom, patrolling bathrooms to try and pick up the kids who are vaping getting sent home from camps, because they’re just able to get these hands on these really bad to say it really cheap and nasty products that are coming in from from overseas.
Tony skinner 10:27
Yeah. And I guess we should touch on about COVID-19 and smoking and health outcomes. How does that impact.
So it seems that if you are a smoker and you do become infected with Coronavirus, you’re much more likely to have a much more much harder time if you do develop COVID. It’s really not surprising because we all know I think everybody knows that cigarette use of smoking, reduces your lung function and increases your risk of all sorts of lung diseases.
So for something like COVID comes along and also attacks the lungs. You’re going to have a the two working together and we have poor outcomes. I’m still not quite sure whether smoking increases your susceptibility for being a contracting Coronavirus or being affected with Coronavirus.
It’s a probable because we also know that smoking decreases your immune system. So there’s a really compelling argument to stop smoking when it comes to Coronavirus and COVID-19.
Tony skinner 11:33
Yeah, everybody wants better health outcomes. And it must be frustrating because it’s something that I guess even it’s an addiction that people choose to do. And they can stop doing.
Yeah, look, it is an addiction. And so you know, sometimes it’s my choice to smoke and it’s actually an addiction. So choice is a really tricky concept to unpick when you’re when you’re addicted to something. I think what I’m really more disappointed about is that we haven’t actually had government action to really hammer home that message around the risk factors of smoking when it comes to COVID-19. I think we had a really massive opportunity that in Australia generally and certainly in Victoria, we missed because we weren’t doing those smoking campaigns.
We weren’t able to say to people its actually a really strong clinical risk. If you get COVID and you’re a smoker, that’s not great. So please, you’ve got an even more of a reason to stop smoking now. And unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that.
Tony skinner 12:35
Okay, yeah, it’s pretty challenging. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
No, Look, I think that’s about it. But I just encourage if there’s anyone out there listening today, you know, really do something have a go at quitting. I
It can be hard. Some people it’s actually pretty easy. But give the quit line on 13 78 48 a call and have a chat about whether we can give you a hand. It’s certainly non judgmental. They’re very empathetic. It’s the cost of a phone call. So give it a go.
Tony skinner 13:04
Yeah, I completely agree. Thank you, Sarah from quit.org.au.
Thanks so much, Tony.