May 31st is World No Tobacco Day – a day dedicated to improving knowledge about the harmful, and even deadly, effects of tobacco. Do you know why you and your loved ones should stop smoking? Tobacco smoke from cigarettes is well understood to be a major cause of illness and death globally.
There are approximately 1 billion smokers in the world, and nearly 80% of them live in low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria. Tobacco kills approximately 6 million people each year, with more than 5 million of these deaths occurring in smokers while another 600,000 deaths occur in non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke.
There are many well understood health effects of exposure to tobacco smoke, ranging from increased coughs, colds and upper respiratory infections to lung cancer and even death. This causes a ripple effect through societies, premature death from tobacco smoke raises healthcare costs and hinders economic development.
There is no safe amount of cigarette smoking and no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke. Of the more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are harmful while more than 50 are known to cause cancer. That is a very big deal LagosMums!
We have to do better at encouraging our friends and family to stop smoking, and preventing ourselves and our children from being around second hand smoke. Almost half of children worldwide regularly breathe in air polluted by tobacco smoke in public places – this is unacceptable, and we must each do our part to encourage the maintenance and implementation of smoke-free laws to protect the health of non-smokers. If you have pre-teens or teenagers and want to prevent them from smoking, start speaking to them NOW about the dangers of tobacco smoke in a way they will understand – discuss how it can stain their teeth and fingernails, cause bad breath, wrinkles, lung cancer and death.
It also can’t hurt to explain to them that smoking is expensive, and they’ll have one less iPad or other gadget if they spend money on buying cigarettes. If you or a loved one are having a difficult time quitting smoking, please see your primary doctor. It is their job to support you through all health problems, and quitting smoking is no different.
There are many Nicotine Replacement Therapy options such as chewing a special gum, using a patch or even medication to help wean off the cravings. Behavioural therapy can also be done alone or in addition to these therapies. Tobacco smoking is dangerous and deadly…but be encouraged that there are many ways to quit and to protect yourself and your family.
Follow me on the Instagram and Twitter handle @yourprimarydoc for additional facts about tobacco and tips on how to quit. Repost my public health awareness messages today to show your support for smoking cessation….your lungs will thank you!
Working to keep you healthy,
Dr. Sade Adeyi
Consultant Family Medicine Physician