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LETTER OF THE DAY - Give addicts more time to quit public smoking

Published:Tuesday | July 30, 2013 | 12:00 AM


THE EDITOR, Sir:

With all the discourse on the implementation of a ban on smoking in public spaces by Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson, RISE Life Management Services has noted that the conversation has not been sensitive to the fact that nicotine does lead to addiction, and addiction is a disease.

Certainly the persons addicted to tobacco did not start the habit thinking that they would become slaves to it, and as such, the disease component of the addiction must be taken into consideration during the implementation process of the ban.

We want to be clear that RISE Life Management Services does not support smoking in any form, as we promote only healthy activities.

We are, however, very aware from our 23 years of working in the addiction field that the majority of smokers will experience great difficulty in their attempt to reduce or eliminate their smoking habit, especially if a strong desire to quit does not exist. We have witnessed many individuals give up alcohol and even cocaine use, but who have been unable to give up their cigarettes!

We believe that more time should have been given to individuals who smoke to mentally and physically prepare themselves for the cessation of smoking in public.

GREATER SENSITIVITY

Given the knowledge that smoking usually leads to addiction, and addiction is a disease, the public-health approach must employ a measure of sensitivity and support for those desiring to reduce or quit the habit.

Persons attempting to quit will experience nicotine withdrawal such as anxiety and irritability. Professional smoking-cessation programmes endeavour to address these issues. Many individuals will require nicotine-replacement therapy along with counselling in order to quit and, therefore, should be offered this service.

So while we want to protect the rights of the non-smoker, we must do so in a manner that embraces the rights of the smoker to get help and support in preparation for this new paradigm.

RICHARD HENRY

RISE Life

Management Services

motivation4change@gmail.com