Oct 15, 2008, 7:53 AM
It was stated that the number of new cases of cancer per year in Africa is estimated at over 582,000. Experts say that if cancer prevention and control was not stepped up, by the year 2020 there will be an estimated 1,000,000 new cases of cancer with a mortality rate of 50%.
Many would say that, with figures like these, smoking represents an unacceptable risk to health, but for those who are addicted to the weed, it is a risk they feel they cannot avoid.
It was also reported that smoking is one of the major risk factors involved in cancer, and that mortality among smokers is about three times higher than among non-smokers.
Smoking is said to cause cancers in all parts of the human body, particularly of the lungs, the mouth, the larynx, bladder and kidneys.
We are all too well aware that while smoking is harmful to the adult, it has a very serious effect on the foetus and young children. The effect of second hand smoke on a foetus can be as serious as if the pregnant woman herself smoked.
This leads to a higher risk of miscarriage, stunted foetal development and low birth weight in babies.
It was also revealed that the prevalence of smoking is 29% among men and 7% among women, and this led to 200,000 smoking-related deaths.
While these figures are shocking they mask a more secret reality for which we do not have figures. Recent studies have shown that the smoking of cannabis is more harmful to the body than smoking tobacco.
Secret or not those who are engaged in the recreational use of the drug are putting their health at an even greater risk than those who smoke only tobacco.
This may lead to greater pressure on our over-stretched health service in the coming years. So what should be done? Many countries use a system of very high taxation to try and price tobacco smokers out of their habit. While this would raise revenue for the government there is something morally ambiguous about taxing addicts who are slaves to their drugs.
What has proven to be far more effective is education. Many smokers will already be aware of the danger they are putting their life in; so, as adults, they must make the decision themselves to quit.
In the future, with education, every child would know exactly what they are doing when they pick up a cigarette. They are damaging their health and putting themselves at enormous risk of developing cancer in later life.
"One gives nothing so generously as advice."