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Physician heals thyself as doctor shares successful quest to quit

At home, his family advised him to go outside to light up. At work, his colleagues use their hands to cover mouth and nose when passing by.

Associate Prof. Dr Xayadeth Lattanavong shares experiences on giving up smoking.

Along with preserving his own health, these are key reasons encouraging former Head of Ears, Nose and Throat Ward of Mahosot Hospital, Associate Prof. Dr Xayadeth Lattanavong to give up.
With World No Tobacco Day marked on May 31, he is keen to share his story of kicking the deadly habit with others.
Working at the ward, he saw many patients suffering from oral cancers including tongue, voice box and other complications.
Smoking is a major contributor to such illnesses.  In addition, whenever he had common cold his voice became hoarse before completely disappearing.
Dr Xayadeth started smoking in 1968 when he was 23 and studying at medical school.
He smoked an average of one pack of 20 cigarettes per day in the years since.
“Nobody convinced me to smoke. I smoked as I wanted to erase the bad odour of blood that I encountered at the hospital each day,” he admitted.  
His parents were not impressed with him when they realised he was smoking, imploring him to change based on the realisation that it was not good for health.
Nobody in his family was a smoker previously.  He observed that his wife and children did not like him to smoke inside the house.
This meant he had to go outside to light up whenever he was at home. Once he smoked inside the house and smell of smoke remained inside for a week, causing his wife and children to be unhappy. Since then he did not smoke inside the house again.
The worst thing for Dr Xayadeth as a smoker was when he attended meetings at Ministry of Health. He hurried to go to smoke during a coffee break.
Today, the Ministry of Health is one of many smoke-free zones in Laos.
This means that smokers are not allowed to light up anywhere inside the boundary fence of the ministry. When out and about, he increasingly observed that women walked by him always using their hands to close their mouth and nose.
He felt shame and realised that smoking was unacceptable habit, telling himself that one day he must change this. He planned to give up smoking many times and looked for the suitable day.
In 2009 he decided to give up on December 2, the National Day of Laos. He recommends such a milestone to help strengthen the will and provide a an annual reminder of achievement and success.
“You could choose the important day of giving up smoking such as anniversary of your wedding day, your children’s birthday or like me our national day,” he recommended.
Before quitting, he worried that he might suffer from some side-effects as many had rumoured. Today, he observed that he did not have any negative side affects since he gave up in 2009.
His family is happy with his success in giving up smoking. His voice is now regular and it does not become hoarse even when he has a common cold.
Fortunately, despite four decades of tobacco smoking, he has not as yet developed any serious health problems. The 72-year-old believes that giving up really helps him to have good health.
And today he continues to work at his own private clinic on ears, nose and throat in Thongkhankham village, Chanthabouly district, despite retirement as an official 10 years ago.
For this reason, he wants to share his tips for someone who seeks to give up their smoking habit.
Dr Xayadeth said that an important thing is implements such as cigarettes and lighter or matches, ash tray and other materials related to smoking must be thrown away to remove temptation.
“The most important thing is you should do it for yourself. You really need to give up and decide to follow through with it.”



By Xayxana Leukai
(Latest Update May 31, 2017)

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