New Internationalist

Kick the habit

Issue 369

The most effective measures to control tobacco are: • banning all promotional activity

• restricting smoking in shared public spaces

• continual public health education

• high taxes

• support for quitters


There is no such thing as a safe cigarette. Studies show that smokers compensate for the lower nicotine of ‘low tar' cigarettes by taking deeper drags, thus maintaining the usual tar levels. Stopping – no matter how long you've smoked for or how frequently – has only benefits. Of course, it is better to stop as soon as possible. It takes on average 6-8 attempts before the habit is completely broken, so don't be discouraged if the first attempt fails. Many of the organizations in our directory offer tips and help to cope with the withdrawal symptoms.

Time since quitting & Benefits

20 minutes - Blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal.

8 hours - Nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in blood reduce by half, oxygen levels return to normal.

24 hours - Carbon monoxide eliminated from the body. Lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris.

48 hours - No nicotine left in the body. Ability to taste and smell greatly improved.

72 hours - Breathing becomes easier. Bronchial tubes begin to relax and energy levels increase.

2-12 weeks - Circulation improves.

3-9 months - Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems improve as lung function increases.

1 year - Risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.

10 years - Risk of lung cancer falls to half that of smoker.

15 years - Risk of heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoked.

Source: ASH UK

Web Extra: Read about Thami Maqhubela's struggle to quit at>

Anti-tobacco directory

ASH – Action on Smoking and Health

Each national organization is independent. ASH Australia> Tel: +61 2 93341876

ASH Britain> Tel: +44 20 77395902

ASH Ireland>

ASH New Zealand/Aotearoa> Tel: +64 9520 4866

ASH US> Tel: +1 202 6594310

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids>

Tel: +1 202 2965469

Excellent visual materials on this US group’s site.

International Network of Women Against Tobacco> Tel: +1 732 5499054

US-based network with members in 70 countries dedicated to preventing tobacco use by women.

International Union Against Cancer GLOBALink>

The main forum for tobacco control advocates – bulging with information.

Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals> and>

Worldwide NGO coalition supporting the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Legacy Tobacco Documents Library>

The University of California provides access to 7 million industry documents.

Non-Smokers’ Rights Association>

Tel: +1 416 9282900

Well-researched tobacco control advocacy, based in Canada.


Freephone: 0800 002200 for this British group’s advice on quitting.


Hard-hitting Australian site with all the visual evidence on health effects you’re likely to want to see.

Research for International Tobacco Control>

Canadian project that does tobacco control outreach in the Majority World.

Tobacco Control Supersite>

A guide through the legal documents and control issues from an Australian perspective.

Tobacco Free Initiative>

World Health Organization initiative – a good source of statistics.

Teen smoking

Most smokers start in their teens. The health warnings can have a hard time getting through to young people for whom the risk of a heart attack or cancer years down the line can seem distant. When tobacco companies get into education, their efforts are generally useless – giving smoking the cachet of being a forbidden adult activity and making it more appealing to youngsters.

The ideal scenario would be if young people didn't have film stars or adults who smoked to emulate. But, failing that, an approach that exposes how tobacco companies manipulate young people has succeeded where others have not.

This is Florida’s ‘Truth Campaign’ (>) and it has recently been in the news because tobacco companies want to stop funding it. They had been forced to provide the cash under the conditions of a 1998 legal settlement.

31 May - World No Tobacco Day

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This article was originally published in issue 369

New Internationalist Magazine issue 369
Issue 369

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  • Smoke gets in your eyes

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    Hemmed in by restrictions in many parts of the world, the tobacco empire nevertheless continues to expand. Dinyar Godrej explores the contradictions.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

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– Emma Thompson –

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