HealthNewsNigeria1.3 Million People Die From Second Hand Smoke Every Year-WHO

Due to the devastating effect of Tobacco smoking on humans, the World Health Organization, WHO, Members state established World No Tobacco Day in 1987, to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.

On June 10, 2015, the Tobacco Control Act was signed into law to regulate the production, manufacture, sale, labeling, and promotion of tobacco and tobacco products in Nigeria.

Despite warnings by the Federal Ministry of Health that all Smokers were liable to die young, Nigerians still consume an average of 20 billion cigarettes annually.

The day is celebrated annually, on the 31st of May. The 2024 celebration theme is “Protecting children from tobacco industry interference aimed at raising awareness about the harmful influences of the tobacco industry on youth.

A report from the World Health Organization indicates that 1.3 million people die from secondhand smoke every year and 11.1% of smokers are boys, while 7.2% are girls.

Another WHO data shows that an estimated 37 million young children aged 13 to 15 years use tobacco globally, while the rate of e-cigarette use among adolescents exceeds that of adults.

Based on these alarming figures, the World Health Organization wants African governments to levy environmental taxes on tobacco throughout its value and supply chains.

The report also states that smokers are more likely to develop heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and lung cancer.

Regional Director of WHO, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti in a message to commemorate the day, said the organization was working closely with governments to address the barriers to effective response and speed up the momentum to protect Africa’s young people from tobacco use.

In her comments on this year’s theme, a Psychologist at the University of Ibadan, Ms. Mary Uguru described tobacco as a strong predictor of suicidal behaviors among youths.

“Smokers find it difficult to participate socially and they become isolated. It is also important to note that Smoking during adolescence is predictive of health problems in the future like respiratory ailment, behavioral and cognitive problems, depression, anxiety, alcohol or illicit drug dependencies.” Ms Uguru said.

She appealed for more sensitization of young children in schools and colleges on the harmful effects of smoking tobacco.

The Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Isuku Victor stated that smoking cigarettes was not a crime. Still, anyone found with illicit drugs such as Indian hemp, would be arrested and prosecuted.

“As far as the law is concerned and the police too, we don’t have anything against tobacco and its company. It is when you now smoke those psychopathic, illicit drugs and the rest of them, that you would now have an issue with the law,” he said.

Some tobacco users in the Federal Capital Territory react to smoking.

Thomas Adebayo said: “It makes me happy, it makes me sleep well. I know that our forefathers smoked until we were born and they still lived long enough to enjoy the fruits of their labor.”

Ray Mmadu: “I started taking it when I hung out with friends. They encouraged me to take it and I got addicted when I noticed that it calmed my nerves anytime I got angry over anything. I understand the warnings attached to smoking tobacco but I don’t believe in it. When you smoke, all you have to do is to eat a balanced diet.”

The Director General of Raw Materials, Research and Development, Professor Nnayelugo Ike-Muonso said it was risky to quit tobacco suddenly as it could lead serious health complications.

Professor Ike-Muonso called on all stakeholders to formulate policies and provide alternatives to help those who want to quit smoking tobacco and advocated the reduction of tobacco harm.

“What we expect the government and policymakers to do, is to recognize alternative products, that’s what we call reduced risk products as health products. An example is something like E-cigarettes. Evidence across the world has shown that people who consume E-cigarettes, for instance, do not suffer the effects of smoking.” Professor Ike-Muonso noted.

The Assistant Director of Nursing, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Olusola Ositade, appealed to the government at all levels to make commensurate efforts towards ensuring that the citizens live healthier lives, free from the harms of tobacco consumption and its environmental effects.

Hassan Umar Shallpella (Regional Correspondent)

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