File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / stokkete

Many Unaware Of Cannabis, Hookah Smoking Health Risks

As part of a national campaign, the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit is warning residents to steer clear of any kind of smoke, not just tobacco.

National Non-Smoking Week, which runs until Saturday, is a coast-to-coast campaign that informs and educates Canadians about the dangers of tobacco use, how to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke, and tips for helping smokers quit. The campaign was established in 1977 by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control.

The health unit says most people recognize that there is no safe level of exposure when it comes to tobacco smoke, but many are unaware of the health risks associated with exposure to cannabis and hookah smoke.

According to the health unit, smoke from a hookah pipe can also cause serious health risks, similar to cannabis and tobacco. Hookahs are water pipes that are used to smoke flavoured specially-made tobacco and herbal shisha. The report states that the charcoal used to heat the product produces high levels of carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and cancer-causing chemicals. Just by smoking with a hookah once, people inhale about 90,000 ml of smoke, compared to 500-600 ml when smoking a cigarette.

The health unit recommends that everyone limits their exposure to smoke – whether it be tobacco, cannabis, or hookah smoke. Avoiding smoke is especially important for children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with pre-existing health conditions, such as asthma, lung and heart diseases.

If you are looking to quit smoking, there are free services available in Chatham-Kent to help:

  • Free nicotine replacement therapy (patch, gum, lozenge, and inhaler) is available for you if you are part of a family health team or a community health centre. For more information, call your health care provider. If you are not part of a family health team or community health centre, call the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit at 519-352-7270.
  • Free nicotine replacement therapy is available for young adults between the ages of 18 to 29 through the Leave The Pack Behind campaign. Free medication to help you quit is available to people on the Ontario Drug Benefit Program. A prescription is necessary for this medication.
  • Free telephone, online chat, and text support can be accessed through Smokers’ Helpline at 1-877-513-5333, online, or by texting “iQuit” to 123456 (charges may apply).