The benefits of quitting

Three-quarters of smokers agree that life would be better if they quit.

They know quitting will improve their health and wealth and set a good example for those around them.

That’s why, as a physical education teacher and a participant in the Latrobe Valley Health Assembly, I’m really happy to introduce a new series that aims to provide some practical quitting help for smokers, their friends and family members.

Over the next five weeks Quit Victoria, local experts and the Latrobe Valley Express will bring you a series of articles that will give you the tools and confidence to butt out for good.

As a physical education teacher at Kurnai College University Campus, I am passionate about spreading the anti-smoking message.

Smoking causes so many health problems which can restrict people from enjoying everyday activities – for young people, this might mean not being able to keep up with their mates when they are having a kick of the footy.

It is concerning to see young people out of breath due to smoking when they are doing basic activities such as walking down the street.

The negative health effects of smoking can be seen even at a young age.

I have completed class activities with adolescents who smoke and measured their blood pressure.

We’ve seen some alarming results – but the students can watch their blood pressure return to within a healthy range simply by giving up the cigarettes.

The activity delivers a simple but powerful message.

The good news is that quitting brings immediate benefits.

Within hours, the heart rate will slow and blood pressure will become more stable.

Within a week, taste and smell will have improved.

Within three months, there will be less coughing and wheezing, and the immune system will be fighting infections better than ever.

Within two to five years, the risk of heart attack and stroke fall and continue to decrease over time.

Besides the health benefits, there’s all the money you can save.

Whether you are 18 or 58, the decision to smoke or not to smoke could determine whether you have a holiday this year.

A quick calculation shows that at current prices a pack-a-day smoker loses about $9000 a year.

That could fund a three-week holiday to the United States – or, for a young person about to leave school, it could buy a car.

It just shows what you miss out on if you smoke, simply because of the cost.

Ange Gordon is a physical education teacher and a participant in the Latrobe Valley Health Assembly

Traralgon Football Netball Club president Andrew ‘Livo’ Livingstone gave quitting a few tries before finally kicking his 20-year habit about four years ago.

His wife and children didn’t like him smoking, and he hid the fact that he smoked from the juniors he coached at the club.

“I was a bit ashamed of smoking and thought it wasn’t a good habit for the kids to see,” Andrew said.

“Being their coach, someone they look up to, one of the worst things you could do is smoke in front of them.”

Andrew remembers a turning point at work one day, when he headed out for a cigarette break and thought, ‘why am I doing this?’.

He decided he had enough of smoking and he really wanted to give up this time.

Andrew hasn’t looked back, and has some advice for smokers thinking about quitting.

“I’m waking up feeling fresher in the mornings, and able to exercise a lot easier.

“Just give it a go – you’ll see a lot better side of life without smoking.”