31 May 2010
Ponder this...every eight seconds someone dies from using tobacco. Every year, 5.4 million people lose their lives due to smoking. Meanwhile, one billion people could succumb to tobacco use during this century. These eye–opening statistics were revealed by the World Health Organisation, (WHO) last year. Still, ten million cigarettes are sold every minute as millions world–wide continue to turn a blind eye to the dangers of nicotine dependence.
Today, (May 31) as the global community observes World No Tobacco Day, (WNTD), it’s imperative to bring to the fore the negative health effects of the widespread prevalence of tobacco use. This year’s theme: Gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women, sheds much needed light on the alarming increase in female smokers.
Women comprise about 20 per cent of the world’s more than one billion smokers and remain a major target of opportunity for the tobacco industry, which needs to recruit new users to replace the nearly half of current users who will die prematurely from tobacco–related diseases.
Girls lighting up
Data from 151 countries indicate that about seven per cent of adolescent girls smoke cigarettes as opposed to twelve per cent of adolescent boys. In some countries, almost as many girls smoke as boys. Controlling the epidemic of tobacco use among women is an important part of any comprehensive tobacco control strategy, says the WHO. Reaffirming its commitment to protecting and promoting women’s health around the world, the WHO says protecting women from the attempts of tobacco companies to lure them into a lifetime of tobacco use, should be high on every government’s agenda.
Narace: Aims for first–world status
Here at home, our government is moving to educate the population about the dangers of smoking and tobacco consumption. The Tobacco Control Act now prohibits persons from‘lighting up’ in enclosed public areas. The act, passed in December 2009, and proclaimed by President George Maxwell Richards, came into effect on February 17. Former health minister Jerry Narace, in a recent interview, said the act was designed to protect individuals from exposure to tobacco smoke, particularly children, babies and pregnant women.
He said it also aimed to help prevent people, especially youths, from picking up the habit. “We are very happy that we joined first world countries to enact and proclaim the tobacco legislation. We’ve been getting favourable comments from the population as well as proprietors who say they can now enjoy entertainment without having to inhale cigarette smoke.” Narace added that the Act would also lead to a reduced demand for health care for tobacco related illnesses in T&T. “As we look forward to a healthier society in the coming years, I want to congratulate the public for its co–operation and adherence to the law. In the next parliament, we are aiming for first–world status in that regard.”
- About a third of the male adult global population smokes.
- Cigarette smoke contains 11 chemical compounds that are known to cause cancer.
- Among young teens (aged 13 to 15), about one in five smokes world–wide.
- Half of long–term smokers will die from tobacco.
- Every cigarette smoked cuts at least five minutes of life on average–about the time taken to smoke it.
- Smoking is a prime factor in heart disease, stroke and chronic lung disease. It can cause cancer of the lungs, larynx, oesophagus, mouth, and bladder, and contributes to cancer of the cervix, pancreas, and kidneys.
- More than 4,000 toxic or carcinogenic chemicals have been found in tobacco smoke.