Tobacco: Silently hiding smokers in graves

Tobacco was historically discovered by a European in the person of Christopher Columbus in 1492, initially, it was only smoked by high-class personalities during festivities but Columbus took it back to Europe where it gained recognition.

Smoking increased dramatically during world wars, it was supplied to troops for free mainly to boost their morale but later in the 20th century, it became less popular due to a rapid increase in its health effects. Several types of research were conducted and books published on the dangers of tobacco to health, some of which are Samuel Thomas in 1795, Benjamin Rush in 1798 and many more. World No Tobacco Day was celebrated on May 31 but not known to many due to poor campaigns.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), every year roughly about 8 million people die from smoking-related diseases and more than 7 million of those deaths are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. There is no form of tobacco that is safe, some people have capricious believes that smoking stogie is safe compared to cigarettes; which was scientifically proven untrue. The misconceptions people had about E-cigarette (Shisha) saying it is harmless was nullified by health experts stating that it does not contain tobacco but it is injurious to health. They further explained that all forms of tobacco share similar health risks and contain almost 30 cancer-causing chemicals.

Some people smoke cigarettes to numb their level of depressions and stress; it is a naked truth that smoking does not lessen depression but aid in storing toxics that could terminate life if victims refuse to heed the warnings. Some are puffing cigarettes due to pressures and influence from peers, daily mingling with friends that smoke gradually makes one develop interest in it and try to feel how others are feeling when they smoke. One of the key causes of smoking is growing in a family where everyone freely smokes; sending children on errands to buy cigarette or smoking it in their presence make them see it as good and gain audacity to give reasons whenever they are caught in the act.

Furthermore, mental trigger to smoke which was as a result of solitude make one smoke beyond count; having no one to keep him or her in company push one to evil practices including smoking. Smoking is a threat to health as it weakens the immune system because nicotine hinders its smooth function; it also leads to bad breath, stained and tooth loss. Minor sickness to other people that do not smoke become serious to those that smoke because their immune systems are weak and could not stand against the invading nicotine toxics. Perturbingly, Cancer Council stated that ‘if the present weak regulations in developing countries continue, tobacco would kill approximately 10 million people annually’.

Smoking also leads to lung cancer accompanied by chronic cough and when it worsens produces blood whenever a smoker coughs. Unknown to the majority is that people who closely sit when someone is smoking suffer more and have similar health problems; they usually inhale the produced smoke without getting it out. Prolonged smoking could lead to weight loss, the feebleness of the body, dry and wet cough, pain in the chest, back or shoulders and smokers suffer from pains during coughing, laughing or deep breathing. Negligence by authorities concerned about imposing unbearable taxes on cigarettes or related products makes cigarettes available almost everywhere.

Therefore to eliminate tobacco usage there is a need to decrease the level of tobacco adverts, marketing and promotion in online and offline media. Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is a milestone in the protection of public health. Some of the measures carved out by FCTC includes monitor tobacco use and prevention, protect people from tobacco use, offer help to quit tobacco use, warn about the dangers of tobacco, enforce bans on tobacco adverts, promoting or sponsorship and the last one was raise taxes on tobacco. Practicalising these measures in countries could eventually lead to tobacco-free societies.

Governments should establish centres for keeping repented smokers, this is to make them forget their past smoking-life and build a greater future. Heavy tax should be imposed on tobacco, tracking and tracing devices should be made available at borders in order to detect tobacco hidden in luggage and anyone found guilty should be punished. Researches need to be conducted on incomes and prices of cigarette should be increased so as to pass income of smokers which at the end would have no choice than to abandon the act. One should not be in company with those that smoke, attending smoking-free gatherings and being busy in profitable ventures are key to abstaining from smoking.

Source: The Guardian Nigeria