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It’s not too late to give up smoking says Asthma Foundation

Media Statement
The Asthma Foundation

8 November 2012

The Asthma Foundation urges smokers to visit their GP because ‘It’s not too late’.

With World COPD Day approaching on 14 November, the Asthma Foundation is urging smokers and ex-smokers who have breathing difficulties to talk to their GP or contact their nearest asthma society.

World COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) Day is organised by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), which raises awareness of COPD through events and activities. This year’s World COPD Day theme is ‘It’s not too late’. This positive message was chosen by GOLD to emphasise the meaningful actions people can take to improve their respiratory health, at any stage before or after a COPD diagnosis. Our focus is that it’s not too late to give up smoking.

COPD is a chronic lung disease that is usually caused by smoking. It often goes undiagnosed in the early stages. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing and phlegm. People often ignore these symptoms until they are severe. Whether you have mild or severe disease, it’s not too late to stop smoking to improve your breathing.

A simple breathing test called spirometry can show whether you have developed COPD. Once COPD has developed, there is no cure. You can, however, prevent further deterioration by stopping smoking – ‘it’s not too late’ to make a change for better health. If people continue smoking, their lungs will get worse and the disease can be fatal.

COPD is on the rise in New Zealand and internationally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COPD afflicts some 50 million people around the world, and is the fourth leading killer – causing nearly 3 million deaths every year. The WHO also says that global deaths from COPD are projected to increase by more than 30 percent in the next 10 years unless there are interventions to cut risks, particularly preventing exposure to tobacco smoke.

“We estimate that 1 in 7 New Zealanders aged 45 and over has COPD – more than 200,000 people, or the population of greater Hamilton,” said Angela Francis, chief executive of the Asthma Foundation.

“Members of our COPD support groups regularly tell us how much they regret smoking and would like to warn other people of the dangers involved,” says Teresa Demetriou, the Foundation’s national education services manager.

In 2010 events took place in 38 countries including, for example, New Zealand, the UK, India, Bulgaria and Morocco. Events planned in New Zealand this year include COPD presentations to health professionals and COPD information stands in shopping centres.

Visit our website to see what events are happening in each region to support World COPD Day:
“Don’t give up, quit! You can do it with the right support. The good news is that there’s more support available than ever before,” says Angela.

The Foundation urges people with breathing symptoms or coughing to visit their doctor to get tested for COPD because early detection and management can slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life. You can also contact your local asthma society or trust.


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