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World No-Tobacco Day - Commit to Quit

Posted 01 Jun-2021 09:13 PM by Emmanuel | 567

The World No-Tobacco Day is one of the World Lung Days established by the World Health Organization in 1987 to increase awareness on the deleterious effect of tobacco use and to draw global attention to the impact of this epidemic on public health. This event holds on May 31st of every year and this year the theme is ˜Commit to Quit.'1

Tobacco smoking is one of the world's greatest health challenges and the leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.2 The global smoking statistics is quite alarming, presently causing severe impact on health and forebodes serious adverse effects on health in the nearest future. There are about 1.3 billion tobacco users globally and over 8 million people die from tobacco-related diseases annually.3 About 7 million of those deaths result from direct tobacco use while approximately 1.2 million results from second-hand smoke exposure among non-smokers.3  In the 20th century, about one hundred (100) million people died from smoking-related diseases, mostly from high income countries.4 However, it is estimated that about 1 billion people will die from smoking in the 21st century, with a higher percentage coming from low-and-middle-income countries.5

Reports from the United States reveal that 14 out of every 100 persons aged 18 years and above currently smoke cigarettes equating to about 34.1 million adult smokers. Over 16 million of these people have smoking-related disease.6 The prevalence of smoking is also rising in developing nations. It has been estimated that over 80% of the world's 1.3 billion tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries.3 Africa is experiencing a steep rise in tobacco smoking. In Nigeria, the prevalence of smoking in the general population is reported to be 8.9%.2

Smoking Related Diseases

Diseases associated with smoking are diverse and they include cancers, top of which is lung cancer; other lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart diseases, stroke, and diabetes. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy; and immune system problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis. 27% of all cancers has been attributed to tobacco smoking and this is rising.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vulnerability of smokers, as they were found to have up to a 50% higher risk for composite poor outcomes, developing severe disease, ICU admissions, disease progression and death from the virus.7  

The Need to Commit to Quitting

There is urgent need to put in place strategies to reduce the rates of smoking globally. With no tobacco use, nine out of ten cases of lung cancer could be avoided. Legislation against tobacco companies should be stricter with higher tax rates and information should be made available to everyone on the danger posed by smoking. Stricter laws regulating who can purchase tobacco products so as to protect the younger population; reduction in accessibility to tobacco products; and smoking area restrictions (i.e., smoke-free policies in restaurants, bars, and other public places) must be enforced. There should also be limitations on advertising and compulsory health warnings on packages.2 Moreover, health education regarding smoking must be ardently pursued in primary and secondary schools in order to safeguard the oncoming generations. These will go a long way to reduce the use of tobacco products and safeguard the health of humanity.

Prof. Gregory E. Erhabor

Consultant Chest Physician and Profesor Of Medicine

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife

President, Asthma and Chest Care Foundation


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Asthma and Chest Care Foundation

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