Saying goodbye to the Marlborough Man: It's complicated

Barry Finegan studies the effect of smoking and advocates for stronger smoking cessation programs available to everyone.

Laura Vega - 31 May 2017

It was a popular currency in the Virginia Settlement, an essential crop in early British North America… and it can be one of the biggest threats to human health. Nowadays, tobacco smoking currently leads to nearly six million deaths globally each year, according to the World Health Organization. Certainly the world has a complicated love-hate toxic relationship with the "Marlborough Man."

Barry Finegan, professor in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry's Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine and a leading expert on smoking cessation, is very aware of the difficulties that come with that complex relationship. He has dedicated many years studying the short- and long-term consequences of smoking, from common cigarettes to their new-but not so safe-alternatives. He says hookah bars and vaping have become another potential health danger.

"The tasty flavours added to e-cigarettes are not really thought to help long-time users quit. They are, in fact, more likely to attract younger people to the habit," says Finegan, referring to the touted benefits of these products to those trying to find a way out of the habit. Water pipe smoking, on the other hand, allows a person to smoke up to 40 litres of smoke into their lungs-39 more litres than what is inhaled from a cigarette.

So what is the best solution for the temptation of smoking? Although some try to "phase it out" or remain as occasional smokers, Finegan considers that quitting drastically could give better and more permanent results. But many people admit it: quitting tobacco is hard. Finegan recognizes the challenges faced by those who want to say goodbye to smoking, and that not everyone gets positive results by doing everything alone.

"It seems easier to buy cigarettes than to access smoking cessation services," says Finegan. "Quitting is not easy, but it is important to remind people that they can get help."

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