WHO advocates for smoke-free society, says tobacco is harmful to health

By Victor Akaa, Abuja

The Regional Director, World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Matshidiso Moeti,says Tobacco smoking is dangerous to health as it causes chronic disease such as cancer of the lungs, and even death.

He said “today we commemorate World No Tobacco Day to broadcast greater awareness of the dangers associated with tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke”.

“We also use this moment to advocate for stronger policies on tobacco control”.

He warned that tobacco smoking is dangerous as it contains more than 7 000 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer.

He said tobacco kills so fast as it affects the lungs in multiple ways “smoking is the primary cause for lung cancer, responsible for more than two thirds of lung cancer deaths”.

According to the WHO Regional Director, In 2018, a total of 37 748 deaths were recorded out of 39 353 cases of lung cancer diagnosed in Africa alone.

He further said people who quit smoking reduces 50% of risk of getting lung cancer after 10 years only.

Some of the diseases he said are caused by tobacco smoking were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, slows lung development, asthma exacerbation, among others.

He explained, persons most especially children who have exposed to tobacco smoke toxins affects their function and growth of the lungs. It could also lead to pneumonia, bronchitis and lower respiratory infections.

He noted that tobacco epidemic is the biggest challenge the world ever experienced which mostly affects the children saying over 165 000 children worldwide die before the age of 5 years because of lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand tobacco smoke.

He called on the member States to respond to the tobacco epidemic by fully implementing the provisions of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“Treatment of tobacco dependence should be part of a comprehensive tobacco control policy along with the establishment of smoke-free public places, health warnings on tobacco packages and a ban of tobacco advertising”.

“In addition to an individual approach, including behavioural and/or pharmacological interventions, a supportive environment is needed to encourage tobacco consumers to quit”.

“I urge governments to adopt and enforce tobacco-control policies aimed at reducing the demand for tobacco; promoting tobacco cessation; and adequately treating tobacco dependence. This should encompass educational institutions, health care facilities, workplaces and sporting environments”.

He said WHO will not relent in promoting and strengthening the awareness of the benefits of tobacco-free lifestyles and the cessation of tobacco use.

He therefore called on all individuals, parents and their children, as well as other community member to employ majors of living a tobacco smoking free society as it is inimical to health.

World No Tobacco Day is observed on May 31 every year and the theme of this year is “Tobacco and Lung Health”, focuses on the negative impacts that tobacco has on our lungs and what can be done to reduce the tobacco-related risks to lung health.

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