By CHIOMA OBINNA
Experts have urged Nigerians to cultivate a healthy habit of no smoking as part of efforts to reduce the incidence of preventable diseases caused by tobacco consumption in the country even as they called on President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately sign the National Tobacco Bill into law.
Speaking on this year’s World No Tobacco Day with the theme” Tobacco Industry Interference”, Chairman of the Nigerian Heart Foundation, NHF, 2012 World No Tobacco Day organising Committee, Dr. Bolaji Adebiyi, reminded the President about a statement credited to him about his mother’s warning on the dangers inherent in tobacco smoking.
“Mr President said at a function he attended that his mother warned him against tobacco smoking saying that if he smoked, he would die young,” said NHF’s Director, on Tobacco Related issues, Dr. Dapo Rotifa, who represented Adebiyi at the event.
Rotifa who urged the President to go back to his mother’s warning and take action on the much needed Bill to save Nigerians from avoidable deaths, said most countries of the world were working towards eradicating smoking and that tobacco was a major cause of non-communicable diseases.
He opined that enabling patients to stop smoking and avoid exposure to second hand smoke improved their cardiovascular health.
NHF Director stated: “The growing threat posed by Tobacco on NCD and the conditions in low and middle income countries which now bear 80 percent of the burden of NCDs, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease.
“It is also worthy to note that the damage done by second hand smoke where more than 400,000 adult deaths a year is almost cardiovascular with 87 percent of these deaths recorded in low and middle income countries like Nigeria
“These deaths are prevalent and devastating especially among the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged in the population, “he said
Speaking on the prevalence of tobacco related deaths, the Communications and Marketing Manager, NHF, Mrs Joy Unegbu said “In 2006 alone, a survey by the Lagos State government in 11 hospitals revealed that two persons die every day of tobacco related diseases”
She however identified the dearth of adequate medical statistics as a major problem in tackling health related issues in the country.
Further research by the World Health Organisation, WHO, shows that at every 6.5 seconds someone dies from tobacco use. It also suggests that people who start smoking in their teens and continues for two decades or more will die 20-25 years earlier than those who never light up,” she noted.