By SOLA OGUNDIPE
IN addition to the legendary James Bond (007) series, cigarette or tobacco smoking is perhaps one other entity to which the expression: “Licensed to Kill” is universally applicable. Smoking kills.
A cigarette or tobacco product is the only consumer product guaranteed to kill the user when used exactly as prescribed.
The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing nearly six million people a year. More than five million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600, 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
The World Health Organization calls tobacco a “gradual killer.” Because there is a lag of several years between when people start using tobacco and when their health suffers, the epidemic of tobacco-related disease and death has just begun.
Statistics by the World Health Organisation show that tobacco caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century. Estimates say it may cause one billion deaths in the 21st century. Life expectancy for a smoker is at least 10 years shorter than for a non-smoker. Unchecked, tobacco-related deaths will increase to more than eight million per year by 2030.
All over the world, smoking is routinely linked with bad health and declining wellness. Smoking is the No.1 cause of preventable death, killing more people than many known non-communicable disorders. The chemicals in cigarette smoke harm nearly every organ of the body and also overall health. Tobacco smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds are toxic. About 70 are known to cause cancer. None of these chemicals in tobacco has an overall health benefit.
While smoking harms the smokers’ health, it also puts lives of people around in danger because they inhale the smoke exhaled (secondhand smoking). Approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco, accounting for one in 10 adult deaths. Up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease such as cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and other respiratory diseases
When the late former Minister of Health, Prof. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti began his relentless pursuit of the anti-smoking campaign in 1989, many remarked that it was a fluke. But they were proved wrong. It was during Olikoye’s tenure as Health Minister that a law against smoking was enacted and cigarette manufacturers were compelled to carry warnings such as “Cigarette smokers are liable to die young,” and “The Federal Ministry of Health warns that tobacco smoking is dangerous to health.
Warnings on cigarette packs have since become increasingly restrictive. Warnings such as “Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema and may complicate pregnancy”, “Smokers are liable to die young” and “Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health” are widespread.
Smoking is no longer fashionable. Many countries have pushed out some of the toughest anti-tobacco laws and restrictions in history. In many countries smoking openly in public places such as restaurants, airports or bus stops is forbidden. Smoking is restricted in designated places and even when you smoke in privacy, people who see you smoking consider you a nuisance and threat to public health. Family and friends repeatedly tell you smoking will kill you. And they are right.
In recent times the Federal Government had reason to be urged by pressure groups to act decisively in presenting to the Federal Executive Council the new draft National Tobacco Control Bill, NTCB 2014. The Bill stipulates a minimum of six months imprisonment or N50,000 or both for individuals that smoke outside public places designated as smoking areas. The mission was clear: To keep the commitment to lead Nigeria toward a healthier future with stronger policies protecting the citizens from the dangers of tobacco.
Ban on public smoking is making a difference –saving lives and reducing health costs. The new smoke-free laws are to ensure that all indoor settings which are open to the public, and especially wherever children and pregnant women are present.