World No Tobacco Day: over one in five Belgians smoke
Friday, 31 May 2019
46 hospitals throughout the country are offering free tests and personalised support for World No Tobacco Day. Credit: PxHere
To help the 22% of Belgians who smoke to permanently quit the habit, 46 hospitals throughout the country are offering free tests and personalised support for World No Tobacco Day, on Friday.
The tests, known as Fagerström tests, measure nicotine addiction based on six questions, as well as the level of carbon monoxide present in the lungs. Participants can also see if the age of their lungs matches their real age. For example, the lungs of a 40-year-old smoker usually resemble the lungs of a 60-year-old non-smoker. If they want, they will then be able to benefit from the advice of health professionals.
In addition to hospitals, the Association of Pharmaceutical Unions (AUP) is also offering French-speaking independent pharmacists the opportunity to join the action. The participating pharmacies, recognisable by a poster on their showcase, will offer smokers nicotine addiction tests and receive free personalised assistance on how to quit.
Tobacco causes seven million deaths worldwide each year, 900,000 of which are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke, according to WHO figures.
In Belgium, 73% of smokers say they regret having lit their first cigarette, according to a study by the Foundation against Cancer. However, “quitting smoking is a personal process,” said Sophie Gohy, a respiratory physician and tobaccologist at Saint-Luc clinics in Brussels. “People come when they are ready, sometimes months after World No Tobacco Day, because they have kept our contact information,” she said.
Children exposed to tobacco in utero also suffer more from asthma or pneumonia. Passive smoking also increases the risk of sudden death in infants.
The list of participating hospitals, and the dates and times of the actions are available on the website https://www.journeesanstabac.be/list.html