Smoking strongly affects those who are disadvantaged. By supporting smoking cessation, we are better able to help individuals and families where it counts: their health.
Smoking affects us all. Individually, it stunts growth development in children; it is the leading cause of lung cancer; it can make you look aged at a young age; it is the number one cause of preventable death in the world. However, smoking can do great damage to those around us. Second and third-hand smoke can lead to asthma, high blood pressure, and cancer – in those who have never smoked. Second and third-hand smoke is even related to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Social workers and volunteers are individuals who have devoted not only their occupations and time, but their lives to helping others. Even so, there is sometimes a bit of uncertainty or lack of understanding as to how to address these issues with families or individuals who smoke. Even more, it becomes even more difficult to address when the social worker or volunteer themselves smoke. It is for the reasons of individual health and the health of others that smoking should always be addressed and confronted through means of education, and fact.
The Role of Social Workers and Volunteers
Those who have decided to make a profession or lifestyle of helping others to better themselves, have a large role to play in providing education and support to those who wish to quit smoking. According to Tobacco Free Maine, when it comes to smoking cessation, social workers are an invaluable resource to their clients. When a social worker or volunteer is trained in tobacco intervention, they help those that depend on them by expanding their knowledge of available treatments, helping them to gain general knowledge and education about the dangers of smoking, and understanding that there is support available for them.
Since social workers and volunteers are in a unique position of obtaining clients and families who are in the highest risk level for smoking among adults and teenagers, they may also find themselves in a unique position to help them to quit. According to a 2012 study titled “Socioeconomic status and smoking: a review” by Hiscock R1, Bauld L, Amos A, Fidler JA, Munafò M., smoking is more prevalent among disadvantaged groups. These include low income families, some minorities, and those in need of mental health support. These groups may also find themselves more vulnerable to the harmful effects of smoking. In these scenarios, social workers and public volunteers are in place to become advocates of smoking cessation.
Internal and External Smoking Cessation Methods
Some social workers and volunteers who smoke, as well as those they help, may find that they are in need of education and support in order to quit smoking for good. When it comes to social workers and public wellness and health volunteers, according to a report issued by the National Association of Social Workers, stressors such as a lack of available resources, unrealistic expectations, and/or unmanageable timeframes may lead some to smoke. In the case of clients and/or families in need, the fact that smoking rates are statistically much higher among the disadvantaged, stressors which manifest daily may also cause some to smoke.
Methods include adequate education pertaining directly to the dangers of smoking. Second and third-hand smoke, for example, is exceptionally dangerous to families with newborns due to the increased risk of SIDS. Families with young children and teens are at an increased risk of asthma and other developmental issues. Understanding the importance of a healthy diet may also help curb nicotine cravings.
The endorsement and availability of smoking cessation aids are also a great option. Patches and gums are available over the counter, and without a prescription. Medications can be obtained with a doctor’s consent and recommendation.
We are asking that all social workers and volunteers get involved to help end smoking among the disadvantaged. Smoking kills, and it cripples. Those who are at a disadvantage may gravitate toward smoking due to depression or stress. Help them to overcome these obstacles by offering them alternatives. Through education and support, together, we can truly help those in need where it truly matters: keeping them healthy and able to make the changes they need in their lives.