Letter: confused by view on kicking ‘selfish’ habit

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I am writing in response to a letter published in the Chad entitled ‘Why kick the habit?’ regarding stopping smoking.

I was astounded to read that the writer of the letter believed themselves to be ‘selfless’ in continuing to smoke.

The writer firstly believes that they are contributing a great deal of tax to the Treasury to help to pay for vital services such as the NHS.

However, it is well-known and evidenced that smokers suffer from many more health problems than non-smokers, which places a financial burden on the NHS from having to treat them, but also disadvantages the economy through the amount of time off work that smokers take in sickness absence.

In addition, hours of work are lost every year to smokers taking breaks to smoke. The money that is claimed in tax from a pack of cigarettes is not equivalent to the amount of money lost each year through smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for stroke. Strokes are the third largest cause of adult disability in the world, and can result in long-term disability for many years after a stroke, with stroke patients requiring community health services and support from social care for potentially the rest of their lives. Furthermore, informal care from family members is often needed, which can result in a decrease in their quality life and a loss to the economy through absence from work to care for someone who has had a stroke. It is also highly distressing to experience a family member having a stroke.

The writer of the letter felt that smokers would avoid having Alzheimer’s disease or living in care homes by dying earlier.

Smoking is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and is also a risk factor for vascular dementia. The idea that smokers simply die before dementia occurs is unfounded,and evidence suggests that smokers are more likely to be diagnosed with dementia, and at a much younger age than non-smokers. This does place a burden on the NHS and social care services, but most importantly it reduces quality of life for both the smoker and their families or carers.

Smokers breathe their second hand smoke around other people, many of whom are non-smokers. It’s extremely harmful, particularly for children and older people.

I very much welcome suggestions that smokers should not be able to smoke in parks as breathing in second hand smoke whilst trying to enjoy the clean fresh air of a park is not nice. Many people use parks for exercise and having to jog through clouds of second hand smoke is horrible.

I cannot agree with the writer of the letter that smoking is ‘selfless’.

If anything it is one of the most selfish habits I’ve ever seen and people should very much be encouraged to give up smoking, for their own health and for the sake of other people.


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