Every May 31st is “World No Tobacco Day” (WNTD). The World Health Organization (WHO) proclaims this day each year to highlight the health and other risks associated with tobacco use. As primary health care providers, dental hygienists are well aware of the broad health implications associated with tobacco use. Each year more than 7 million deaths are as a direct result of tobacco use. According to WHO, this number will grow in excess of 8 million by 2030 without concerted action and effort (source: WHO). While tobacco can be used in many forms of course, one of the most common is cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in Canada and accounts for 90% of all lung cancer deaths as well as roughly 80% of deaths caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smokers are also at increased risk of suffering from heart disease, stroke, and increased health care utilization. (Source: CDC).
None of this is news to health care providers, yet millions of people continue to smoke and start smoking each year. The public is also better informed today than ever on the dangers of cigarette smoke. Graphic labels, warnings and no shortage of literature highlighting the dangers of smoking are readily available. So if the public won’t listen to their GPs, what recourse could dental hygienists have in helping people quit? The answer is simple, lots and by virtue of what we do, we have the ability to highlight other areas of physical concern that our patients may be less aware of.