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WHO, Afrikada celebrate World No Tobacco Day

Jun 6, 2011, 2:54 PM | Article By: Isatou Senghore

The World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with Afrikada recently joined the rest of the world to observe World No Tobacco Day at a ceremony held at Daddy Jobe Comprehensive School.

Speaking at the ceremony, a representative from WHO, Momodou Gassama, said tobacco kills more than five million people a year - an average of one person every six seconds.

He further reveled that more than 600,000 nonsmokers die from exposure to tobacco smoke a year, while more than 80% of the one billion smokers worldwide live in low-and middle-income countries.

He added that tobacco caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century, and if current trends continue, it will cause up to one billion deaths in the 21st century.

Mr Gassama said further that unchecked tobacco-related deaths will increase to be more than eight million per year by 2030, and more than 80% of those deaths will be in low-income countries.

Mr Gassama said 168 countries all over the world have signed the convention against tobacco, meaning that they have say "No to Tobacco", and 171 have ratified the convention, including The Gambia.

According to him, a substantial number of students are exposed to tobacco smoke at home and in public places, and over half of the students demanded that tobacco smoking in public places should be banned. There is thus a need for effective implementation of the laws that ban tobacco smoking in public places, which have already been passed in the Gambia, he noted.

Mariama Jadama a student from Afrikada stated that tobacco is the most common substance used among all classes of age groups, ranging from a child at the age of 12 to adults and even elderly persons.

 She said that it can also lead to many diseases such as lung cancer and heart problem, adding that the use of tobacco is the first step to use of narcotic drugs.

"Tobacco usage can also lead to the blockage of the human arteries" she continued, adding that "the arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen to the brain, and if the brain does not have enough oxygen it can make you lose concentration, and this can also cause madness."

According to her, recent studies show that cigarettes kill more people in United States than alcohol, car crashes, murders, suicide, drugs, and fire combined and Africa is reported to be leading the USA in the tobacco and marijuana usage table, and even growing them more than many other regions of the world.

She added that tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 different harmful substances. At least 60% of them are harmful to the human body.

Other speakers included imam Momodou Alieu Jallow from Pipeline Mosque who talked on religion and the hazards of tobacco smoking, and Dawda Samba from Tankatanka Hospital who also talked about cannabis smoking.