World No Tobacco Day

                                                        Don’t let tobacco take your breath way 


During the past year the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate has focused on equipping health care professionals (such as nurses, doctors and allied health professionals) with the knowledge and skills required in providing brief smoking cessation advice to their patients/clients in their daily working routine.  Apart from providing training sessions to Mater Dei Hospital’s and Primary Health Care Department’s health care professionals, training was also provided to health care professionals working in Gozo.   This training project, which started in September 2018, has provided 42 (in 2018), and 128 (in 2019) health care professionals with the necessary skills required so as to motivate or encourage patients/clients to quit smoking have been.  Opportunistic brief advice from health professionals has been shown in numerous scientific studies to increase the number of smokers who quit or seek smoking cessation services.   

In addition to this, the Directorate has collaborated with the Education Department to update Personal Social and Career Development (PSCD) teachers’ knowledge on tobacco products, especially on electronic cigarettes.  In order to prevent the uptake of smoking or to refer students for early smoking cessation, awareness talks to students and training sessions to teachers have been provided at the Malta College of Arts, Science, and Technology (MCAST).  In line with this the Directorate has also started to provide tobacco cessation services to students and staff alike within the Wellbeing Hub at MCAST.  This was done following the introduction of health promotion services at the University of Malta in 2018. 

The focus of World No Tobacco Day, which is celebrated on the 31st of May, was on ‘tobacco and lung health’.  The aim was to raise awareness on the negative impact that tobacco has on people’s lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease. Young children exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of the onset and exacerbation of asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis, and frequent lower respiratory infections.

By now, we know that tobacco kills more than half of those who regularly use it (World Health Organisation, 2014).  Tobacco kills around 500 persons each year in Malta.  Among adult males, 42% and 18% of the male deaths caused by tobacco use, were due to cancer and respiratory diseases, respectively.  Similarly, 37% of the female deaths caused by tobacco use, were due to cancer, while 16% were due to respiratory diseases (Department of Health Information and Research, 2014).  Early smoking cessation is the most effective treatment for slowing down the progression of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and improving asthma symptoms. 

For free tobacco cessation support one can call directly the dedicated quit line on 8007 3333.