Happy New Year – I hope most of you managed to have a good break and for those of you who had to work, many thanks for holding the fort. I spent the holidays with family and friends, relaxing and enjoying a fair number of BBQ’s.
Now the side effects of an over-indulgent Xmas and New Year is the slight hang-over and a growing waistline from too much good food, and while it’s enjoyable at the time, I always seem to start the New Year with a resounding cry that I will change my wicked ways for a healthier lifestyle.
With this in mind my lifestyle changes for 2014 include eating healthier foods, not drinking too much, sleeping well and exercising (gradually) and while the motivation levels are still high (on my 2nd week back at work), I’m determined to go the distance. As I think about the new and improved me I’m mindful of the public face we show to others, not just on an individual level but as an organisation. As healthcare professionals, we have a responsibility to practice what we preach. For example how many of you have told a patient, family member or friend that he or she should give up smoking or adapt a healthier lifestyle? Are you following your own advice? If the answer is no, how can we expect others to change, when we are not prepared to change ourselves.
The other day I received an email from a staff member who witnessed a couple of staff members, in their uniforms smoking at the Middlemore train station. After they had finished they stubbed out their cigarettes and went back to work. This is a clear violation of CMDHB’s Smokefree Policy and Dress Code, as well as breaching Auckland Transport’s no smoking policy. The other thing that struck me were the mixed messages being given to members of the public – some of them children. On the one hand CM Health is actively encouraging people to give up smoking for their health and on the other hand, we have health professionals acting as if it’s ok. I think we sometimes forget that our actions can influence others.
That being said I’m delighted to report that our smoking prevalence rates in Counties Manukau have dropped from 22.1% in 2006 to 15.9% in 2013. This is great news and we need to work with our communities and providers to learn from and build on this progress.
Current activities aimed at reducing smoking prevalence include smoking cessation services and support to quit; regular tobacco price increases; national campaigns; work to progress smokefree environments; and the concerted effort by primary and secondary healthcare services to identify patients who smoke and support them to quit.
Tobacco smoking is still one of the major drivers of health inequities and one of the leading risk factors for avoidable illness and death. We need to continue to make support for people who smoke to quit and remain smokefree in the long-term a high priority, as well as ensuring the number of people who start smoking continues to reduce, particularly in our Maaori and Pacific communities.
Further information about Smokefree support in Counties Manukau can be found here.