Jasmine Han, PharmD Candidate
Pharmacist Awareness Month (PAM)
Whether it’s to get an antibiotic for an infection or to simply fill a regular prescription, you’ve probably had an interaction with a pharmacist at some point in your life. The month of March is Pharmacist Awareness Month (PAM), where young aspiring pharmacy students across Canada promote the role of pharmacists to the public and other healthcare professionals. The Lung Health Clinic held at the Edmonton City Centre Mall last week was an example of a PAM event, where students like myself showcased pharmacists’ roles and increased awareness on smoking and lung health.
Why lung health?
I chose to promote this topic because of the key role that lung health plays in our wellbeing. Our lungs sustain us with oxygen every day of our lives, and so any harm that may come to them can affect our energy level and ability to function. I also had a strong desire to increase awareness about smoking because not only does it affect smokers, but those around them through second-hand smoke.1
I think it’s important for the public to realize that smoking is associated with almost every known medical complication, including increased risk of death, heart and lung diseases, cancer and diabetes.2
I also want people to realize that it’s never too late to quit. Many individuals who’ve smoked all their lives may feel like it’s simply too late to bother with quitting. In reality, however, quitting at any age can reduce the risk of death – in fact quitting before the age of 40 can even reduce this risk back to that of a non-smoker.2
“It’s a lifelong battle… The cravings always come back…”
Quitting smoking is, of course, easier said than done, and I think anyone who has successfully quit smoking deserves respect. The day of the clinic, I met an individual who had successfully quit over 20 years ago with the help of medication and the support of her healthcare providers. What was remarkable to me was that, even two decades after quitting, she still experienced cravings to this day. Ultimately, every single day was still a struggle, and it was her support systems and coping methods that helped her stay the course. I found this very interesting because I feel that many individuals don’t fully realize that quitting can be a lifelong effort. Because of this, I believe that there is a stigma around addiction and that individuals who fail at quitting are seen as weak, instead of getting the support they deserve.
I met several others that day, who had either planned on quitting but were unsuccessful, or were too hesitant to fully commit. What I noticed was that not everyone seemed to have the resources and tools to help them meet their goals. Without these supports, they would relapse during moments when their willpower just wasn’t enough that day.
My experiences strengthened my motivations to advocate for this area of health even more. By being aware of what resources are available in the community, any individual can be that much more likely to succeed on their journey.
- The Lung Association is the leading organization in Canada working to promote lung health and prevent and manage lung disease.1 They do this by funding various research projects, pushing for improved treatments and policies, as well as supporting patients in managing their health.1 Their website is a great resource if you or a loved one wants to learn more about lung health.
- Alberta Quits is a service operated by Alberta Health Services to provide support for all Albertans interested in quitting. They offer various services such as online support, call/text support, and group support to assist you in quitting.3
- Lastly, you can always talk to your healthcare provider for support as well. In addition to advice and counselling they may provide, there are medications (Zyban,® Champix®) and other nicotine replacement products (Nicorette,® Nicoderm,® Thrive®) that you can use while on this journey. For more information on this, we’ve previously covered these methods and others in our three-part series on smoking, where we discussed vaping, the use of nicotine replacement products, as well as prescription medications.
Many individuals undergo multiple quit attempts before they’re successful. Therefore, I believe that no matter how many times an individual is unsuccessful, they should never be discouraged or blame themselves. Instead, every person who takes on this endeavour deserves to be recognized for their efforts and encouraged to continue on.
Interested in Pharmacist Awareness Month? Search the hashtag #PAM2018 to learn more about the movement.
Questions or concerns? You can always reach out to us on Instagram, Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback. We’d love to hear from you.
- The Lung Association