The Bureau of Health Promotion extolled the achievements of its “quit smoking” telephone line established 10 years ago, which it said has assisted more than 710,000 callers by providing counseling and information about how to stop smoking.
The bureau said that of the 710,000 smokers who used the line, 96,000 have drawn up a quitting plan with the assistance of the counselors and 24,000 have successfully been weaned from using tobacco.
The health promotion agency calculated that when a person smokes a pack of cigarettes a day that costs NT$70, quitting smoking can help the person save up to NT$25,550 (US$853) a year. If 24,000 people quit smoking, a total of NT$131.5 million of the National Health Insurance’s expenditures will be saved in the short term, while NT$10.08 billion can be saved in long-term social benefits, it said.
The health benefits after quitting smoking are even more immediate, the bureau said, adding that after not smoking for 20 minutes a person’s blood pressure and pulse start to decrease. After one non-smoking day the risk of heart disease decreases, while after two weeks to three months of not smoking a person’s cardiopulmonary functions improve.
A year after quitting the risk of coronary artery disease decreases, while after five years the chance of developing oral, esophageal and throat cancers are lowered, and the former smoker will have a stroke incidence rate similar to that of non-smokers.
After 10 years, the chances of getting lung cancer will be halved, the bureau said.
According to a survey done by the quit smoking line, former smokers said they have a better quality of life after quitting and feel more positive toward their social life, which is not continually being interrupted by smoking.
Calls to the quit smoking line (0800-636363) totaled more than 29,000 in its first year of operation and more than tripled last year to 98,237, the bureau said.