Tobacco: The silent killer
Despite health professionals’ warnings, millions of people throughout the globe, including Nigeria, smoke. According to WHO and other information centres, millions of people die yearly in Nigeria and elsewhere from tobacco-related illnesses.
Nigeria celebrated World No Tobacco Day with the topic “Tobacco: Threat to Our Environment,” an annual “ritual” in the struggle to stop tobacco use. 40+ Man? Vital Info ends in 2 days!
It allowed concerned people and organisations to raise worldwide awareness about the risks of increased tobacco usage, particularly among teenagers. They hoped global leaders would take action to contain the threat and safeguard the world’s future.
As the globe observed the day, WHO figures showed the dangers of cigarettes. It revealed that tobacco smoke contains 4,000 compounds, 250 of which are toxic and 50 are carcinogenic.
On June 4, 2018, the federal government raised costs on cigarettes and several alcoholic goods to prevent easy access, particularly among younger groups prone to smoke-related illnesses.
Before then, the minister of health, Dr. Isaac Adewole, had warned that the future of Nigeria was endangered by the increased interest of young people in tobacco smoking and other drugs, advocating a ban of the product or making it inaccessible and pricey for some sections of Nigerians.
Experts say more women are smoking than males.
Health and tobacco
Studies show that smoking in confined settings is harmful to the health of the smoker and others (second-hand smoking).
WHO showed that approximately half of the world’s population breaths cigarette smoke. Over 40% of children have at least one smoking parent, and children account for a high proportion of early mortality attributed to second-hand smoke.
Second-hand smoking causes cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, including lung cancer, in adults. This caused sudden infant death syndrome and low birth weight in pregnant mothers.
Ventilation and filtration can’t lower indoor cigarette smoke to tolerable levels for human health; only 100% smoke-free surroundings can provide protection. Smokers and non-smokers are the only ones who can promote smoke-free settings.
WHO cautioned that smoking harms users’ health. Tobacco use is a significant cause of cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung illnesses, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Tobacco use raises the risk of TB, eye illnesses, and immune system issues such rheumatoid arthritis. Long-term cigarette use may also impair ordinary memory.
WHO has expressed concern that, despite initiatives against tobacco use, millions of lives remain lost to cigarette use yearly.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, said WHO has campaigned for African governments to adopt stricter measures against tobacco production and consumption or join its programmes to eradicate or severely decrease tobacco users and growers.
She said WHO will help African farmers convert from tobacco to alternate crops using personnel, resources, and logistics. 330 Kenyan farmers have transitioned from cultivating tobacco to beans, and the first crop yielded 200 metric tonnes. This is positive for our aspirations to expand the programme to additional tobacco-growing nations.
This is the type of strong proof needed to shift farmers’ and governments’ perceptions about tobacco as a commercial crop.
Tobacco contributes for half of Malawi’s exports. Zimbabwe has 13%, Mozambique 6%, and Tanzania 3%.
These are short-term advantages that are dwarfed by long-term drawbacks include food insecurity, farmer debt, disease and poverty among agricultural labourers, and environmental degradation. In Africa, tobacco-related sickness costs for 3.5% of yearly health spending.
This year’s topic, “Tobacco: Threat to our Environment,” was aimed to emphasise the environmental effect of the full tobacco cycle, from farming to hazardous waste.
She urged governments in Africa and beyond to speed implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which offers recommendations to build smoke-free settings, assist tobacco users stop, and support the application of excise tax and other financial remedies. “Reducing tobacco use is crucial to achieving health-related Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs). Environmental data shows the advantages go beyond health.
Moeti was worried that tobacco leaf production was increasing throughout WHO Africa. It accounts for 12% of all tobacco leaf globally, with majority in Southern sub-regions, including Zimbabwe (26%), Zambia (16.4%), Tanzania (14.4%), Malawi (13.3%), and Mozambique (13%).
Dr. Iseko Iseko,from Multispecialty Hospital in Abuja, said, “giving up smoking is simple and tough, but the smoker and others must be determined.”
“Anyone who wishes to quit smoking requires a range of ways, alone or in a company, to stop and remain abstinent.”
Some ways include individual will, family and friend support, group support, counselling, and drugs. All or one is required to quit smoking.
“Second-hand smoking affects bystanders similarly. It’s caused baby and neonatal deaths.
“Smoking is addictive and hard to quit because the smoker’s brain creates neural connections and requires more tobacco to remain aroused or achieve comparable sensations. Additionally, desires make it difficult to focus or have regular physiological processes.
He was worried about the rising usage of hookah pipes and other high-dose tobacco products.
Anselm Okhai, in Apo, Abuja, began smoking in Kaduna. His doctor neighbour introduced him to cigarettes early in life.
Because I watched others smoke, I tried it. I kept it from my family in high school, but had to come clean later. I’m over 40 and still smoke after several warnings.
“I lost the first lady I wanted to marry because I smoke. I want to stop smoking but it’s not simple; I’ve begun. God help me succeed.”
Nura Isah, 28, claimed he started smoking at 19: “I’ve been penalised for smoking, but it hasn’t stopped me. I know the hazards of smoking, yet I can’t quit.
Hamisu Abubakar claimed he stopped smoking after almost dying from a tobacco-related illness. If I hadn’t had that illness, I wouldn’t have stopped smoking.”
Linda Akon started smoking in her first year at the University of Calabar (UNICAL), Cross River State: “I don’t know how I got a taste for smoking to the point that I’m addicted.”
“I nearly got caught working.” Uncomfortable at work, I took a break. I went to my vehicle to smoke, but someone was watching. God rescued me.”
Janet Ekeh questioned the harms of smoke when she saw professors, physicians, and other educated individuals smoking like it was food. I doubt’smokers die young’.
My college and university teachers function better with smokes and booze around. They tell us that smoking is unhealthy.
Surajo Dahiru remarked, “I seldom go 30 minutes without consuming cigarettes or pot.” That’s its level.
“I spent winter in the US. For warmth, I smoked and drank gin. Since then, it’s been part of me, even though I want to stop smoking.