Aug 20, 2014, 10:21 AM
Every year, 31st May is celebrated as World No Tobacco Day, a day commemorated globally to raise awareness on the dangers of smoking.
Described as the leading preventable cause of deaths in the world, it is very important that tobacco demand, supply, distribution and consumption be strictly controlled to reduce its impact on our society.
It is time for stakeholders to honour their commitments to tobacco by initiating dialogue on tobacco in the country, and step up advocacy programmes for its control and possible reduction of its consumption in the country.
Scientific findings have openly established that smoking tobacco in any form causes up to 90 percent of all lung cancers, and is a significant risk factor for strokes and fatal heart attacks.
People who smoke have downplayed awareness campaign on the seriousness of smoking and its fatal consequences. They often consider smoking as common, and proudly claim that they have been smoking for better part of their lives, and nothing happened to them.
It is also said that second-hand smoking harms everyone who is exposed to it, and has serious and often fatal health consequences, such as infant death syndrome.
Many of those who smoke, as well as those who entertain smoking in their presence, do not know the implications of being a passive recipient of tobacco smoke.
It is stated that the number of new cases of cancer per year in Africa was 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 is 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, the bladder and kidneys.
We are all too 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.
Studies have also 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 be already aware of the danger they are putting their lives 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.”