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Smoking as a Health Issue: The Role of Nurses - Essay Example

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1.0 Health is "the state of being free from illness or injury; a person's mental or physical condition" (Oxford English Dictionary, 2002). Smoking is therefore seen as a health issue, because smoking often leads to illness and affects a person's mental and/or physical condition…
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Smoking as a Health Issue: The Role of Nurses
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Download file to see previous pages Tobacco smoking is said to be a major cause of cancer. Roughly one third of all cancer deaths are reported to be attributed to smoking (Saving Lives, 5.10). Smoking also has adverse effects on the spinal column, in the form of spinal column degenerative disease, making them more susceptible to traumatic vertebral injury (Hadley, 1997).
What makes smoking a health issue is not just the physical diseases that it may cause. Just the mere addiction to this habit makes it a health issue. Wilcox (2005) states that intermittent use of nicotine leads to physical and mental dependency.1 What happens is that when nicotine enters the brain, it acts as an adrenaline stimulant for the body, resulting in the tobacco user experiencing symptoms such as increased perspiration, and restriction in blood level. This results in a feeling of well being and alertness. It also causes the tobacco user to feel pleasure and desire for more nicotine in his/her system.
Controversially, although smoking often leads to ill health, there are reports that nicotine assists with memory deficits, particularly in patients with schizophrenia2 (Coleman). Nicotine is found to be abused by people with such psychiatric disorders. Over 50% of psychiatric patients are said to smoke (Addictive Behaviours, 2001).
Unfortunately, some of these deaths result from passive smoking.3 Hundreds of people are reported to have died from lung cancer or heart disease as a result of passive smoking (Smoking Kills, 1.17). Children are particularly vulnerable. The Royal College of Physicians estimates that over 17,000 children in the UK are hospitalized each year for lung illness brought on by their parents' smoking (Smoking Kills, 1.18).


3.0 Smoking Cessation
3.1 Government's Policy
It is for this reason the UK Government has instituted a number of actions with the aim of eliminating the risks associated with smoking. The Government has launched a national public education campaign on smoking. The campaign focuses mainly on ending tobacco advertising and sponsorship, as well as modernizing the National Health Service (Smoking Kills, 3.11).

3.2 Role of Nurses
Just as the impact of smoking is found to be holistic, it is understood that the action/treatment in bringing about smoking cessation also has to be holistic, and that it takes time; it is a process. Due to the level of dependence that people have on tobacco, smoking cessation often results in feelings of depression, irritability, restlessness, hostility, weight gain, and difficulty dealing with stress (Wilcox, 2005).
Realising this difficulty in smoking cessation, theorists have identified a process to help smokers overcome this problem stage by stage. The role of nurses is considered integral in this process.
In a study by DiClemente and Prochaska (1991) of 872 subjects trying to quit smoking, five stages were found - pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. This is known as the transtheoretical model, stages/cycle of change. Once in the contemplation stage, people were ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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