World No Tobacco Day: Choice between death and life

If smoking is not controlled, later in life it becomes a major health problems and may lead heart attack and death. Starting to smoke is a process that involves many influences including a child’s social environment, family circumstances and emotional well-being of an individual. Studies show that attitudes towards smoking start to develop while children are still very young and may be reinforced by certain factors throughout childhood and adolescence.
A Girl smoking.
A Girl smoking.

If smoking is not controlled, later in life it becomes a major health problems and may lead heart attack and death. Starting to smoke is a process that involves many influences including a child’s social environment, family circumstances and emotional well-being of an individual. Studies show that attitudes towards smoking start to develop while children are still very young and may be reinforced by certain factors throughout childhood and adolescence.

It’s very clear that most adult smokers we have now, started smoking when they were teenagers. In today’s society, huge numbers of people see smoking as a social habit and they pay little attention to realize the fact that such smokers are just addicted to the drug nicotine contained in tobacco.

With this year’s theme of “Tobacco-Free Youth,” The World Health Organisation on this day calls attention to how tobacco use impacts public health and aims to reduce individual tobacco dependence worldwide.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco kills nearly 15,000 people every day with majority of smokers taking up the habit long before turning 21.

The Organisation further states that some 25 percent of smokers smoke their first cigarettes before celebrating 10th birthday.

“It is essential that we not only raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco use among youth around the world, but that we should also protect our children from the health problems that smoking can cause” the statement from WHO said.

Tobacco is a major export crop and the eighth largest in the world in terms of agricultural exports products. However, most developing countries spend lots of money on importing tobacco products than they earn in exporting the raw leaves. This shows how they reap less in terms of money as compared to the health problems it causes to them.

For most young people who smoke they always ‘reason’ that smoking a cigarette makes them feel grown up or because their friends and relatives smoke.

John-Bosco Kubwimana who has been smoking since 1997, said that smoking is a serious habit and most people become addicted to it after several trials of discovering the pleasures associated with smoking.

“When you smoke, you begin to feel mature and respectable but by the time you realize that its damaging your health and you should quit it, your already addicted and you can’t easily jump out of it,” he said. Many people have tried to stop smoking but quitting seems like searching for a lost pin in the thick forest.

“I have tried to stop smoking but failed, its part of me now I can’t do without it and I can’t do anything constructive before I take a puff,” Kubwimana said.

Vanessa Uwimana who is a parent of six children, wants parents to play a far bigger role in advising their children not to smoke.

“Children have got to be told the health problems associated with smoking right from their childhood,” she said.

Smoking tobacco is apparently the most dangerous habit which disables and kills lives of many people. Nothing else that we choose to do in our lives is as dangerous to our health as tobacco smoking.

Research indicates that, on average tobacco smoking reduces life expectancy by eight years and it is the second major cause of death around the world.

Uwimana said that beginning a ‘no smoking’ campaign with young people could strongly motivate the on going efforts to change smokers’ attitude.

“Once the young are protected from smoking at their early age, the future generation will have less chances of becoming addicts,” she said.

Unfortunately again and more especially in developing countries, passive smokers continue to suffer as people smoke while in buses, stadiums, offices or workplace, etcetera.

“It’s quite alarming and a serious health threat that almost every person has had a passive smoke especially in public places where smoking is regular.

“Moving to places like tax parks and market places in Rwanda, could shock you because clouds of smoke are all over hanging,” Uwimana said. 

She added that, as result hundreds of thousands of people’s lives are at a risk of death each year from diseases caused by breathing second-hand tobacco smoke.
Breathing second-hand tobacco smoke is very dangerous because it also causes cancer and many other serious respiratory infections such as cardiovascular diseases in children and adults.

There is no safe level of human exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. Researchers have shown that exposure to cigarette smoke slows the production of a protein called FANCD2 in lung cells.

This protein plays a key role in repairing damage to DNA, causing faulty cells to die before they go on to become cancerous.

What most people fail to understand is that, there are no immediate harmful effects of tobacco smoking on your health as they take many years to develop. 

Medical experts say that it takes 25 years of increased smoking within a person for the dramatic effects to show. It’s estimated that in developing countries, 40 to 60% of men smoke and 2 to10% of women also involve in the same activity.

Women who smoke therefore are forewarned that they stand higher health risks than their male counter parts.

Dr. John Zagu of Polyfarm Clinic said in an interview recently said that women who smoke face greater health risks of cancer and heart disease than men.

“Smoking also reduces women’s ability to bear children and if she happens to become pregnant, she is more likely to produce an abnormal baby. Children of mothers who smoke learn very slow, and are more likely to suffer from chest infections,” he strongly warned.

He further said that smoking can damage some of the most important organs in a body, including the lungs, heart and brain. 

“The poisonous chemicals in cigarettes can cause; emphysema, a lung disease and bronchitis inflammation of air passages to the lungs, heart disease, heart attacks, stroke and an interruption of the blood flow to the brain. He cautioned that cigarettes contain tar and nicotine which are poisons to human life.” Zagu said.

Nicotine is a stimulant that makes you feel a little bit hyper. A person can get addicted to nicotine within days of a first encounter with it. The more you smoke, the more you want to continue to smoke. Your body becomes physically dependent on the drug and begins to crave for it which makes it so difficult for the smoker to quit smoking once started.

In fact, the nicotine in tobacco can be as addictive as cocaine or heroine which affects a person’s mood as well as the heart, lungs, stomach, and nervous system.

Tobacco related health hazards are absolutely enormous and saying no to tobacco is a do it or die call. Children and the old alike are advised to stop smoking forthwith if they value their lives. The choice is yours!

Ends

 

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