Doctors support the tobacco ban promoted by the UK

Last Tuesday, the UK approved a law banning tobacco for life for all people born from January 1, 2009 onwards. News of this measure, which represents a global milestone in the fight against smoking, had a strong impact in Spain, which is currently working on developing its own anti-smoking plan. Moreover, Health Minister Monica Garcia does not rule out the ban that the British government will implement next year: “We will see the experiences of other countries and we will move little by little towards a smoke-free society.”

The Ministry of Health of the Principality, one of the first autonomous communities to adhere to the plan promoted by Minister García, does not conduct assessments on this issue, which is limited to the scope of discussion of the Regional Council of the National Health System. Those speaking out about the decision taken by the UK Government are Asturian doctors, who welcome the measure which will mean a gradual ban on the sale of tobacco and vaping devices.

“I am not a big fan of smoking bans,” notes José Manuel Iglesias, coordinator of the Tobacco Group of the Asturian Society of Family and Community Medicine (SAMFyC) and member of the National Committee for Smoking Prevention, but there are situations “in which it is necessary to do so.” This, in his opinion, is one of those positions: “We must normalize the consumption of tobacco or vaping devices – which are also harmful – so that it is no longer socially acceptable.” Therefore, “I believe that this is a good measure to prevent children or teenagers from smoking.”

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But Dr. Iglesias, who runs the smoking unit in Health Region IV (Oviedo and Central Region), explains a nuance. “Given this ban, I believe it should be accompanied by a strong program to help smokers quit smoking,” says this expert who participated in developing the comprehensive plan that the Ministry of Health is preparing. “Smokers cannot be chased and surrounded as if they were infected. “We must help them stop their addiction,” stresses the family doctor, and warns of the contradiction that could occur “if children are banned from smoking forever while they see how people born before 2009 can continue to smoke.”

At 13 years old

Manuel Angel Martinez, engineer of the smoking unit at San Agustin Hospital, who was head of its pulmonology department until his retirement a few days ago, also “strongly agrees” with the planned restrictions in the UK “so that new generations can do this” Don’t fall into addiction Tobacco. He also advocates smoking cessation programs as a way to “help smokers without demonizing them.”

The goal to be achieved: “That a smaller and smaller number of the population is integrated into tobacco consumption and vaping. “It is very important that children do not smoke.” Today, the average age for a first cigarette is between 13 and 14 years. “Getting addicted to nicotine is very easy,” explains Dr. Martinez. “It is enough to smoke every day for two or three weeks in a row.” Its impact on health is “indisputable,” to the point that “we spend huge sums of money directly treating diseases caused by tobacco.” In case it's not clear, an Asturian pulmonologist provides the data: “A quarter of smokers get COPD and the majority of people we diagnose with lung cancer from smoke.”

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