Health  

Red alert to rise in tobacco use among youths

Executive Director of the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF), Dr. Kingsley Akinroye


NHF, UNAN organise essay competition for secondary school students on hazards of substance use to heart, role of stakeholders

MedicalL experts have alerted to rise in use of tobacco products and smoking among youths in Nigeria even as they blamed lack of political will by governments at all levels to enact and implement anti tobacco law.

The experts,the Nigeria Heart Foundation (NHF) in collaboration with United Nations Association of Nigeria (UNAN), as part of awareness programme to mark the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), May 31, and to enlighten the populace on the dangers associated with tobacco use are organising an essay competition amongst secondary school students on the ‘Hazards of Tobacco to the Heart: Role of Stakeholders in Nigeria.’

Executive Director, NHF, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, at a press conference ahead of the WNTD said: “Available statics show that tobacco use is increasing among the youth, more people smoke in the north than south as young girls now smoke more than boys.”

Akinroye, who is a consultant cardiologist, added: “Tobacco is bad for every organ as it affects blood vessels making them thick and inelastic causing restriction to flow of blood.“We enjoin all the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to join hands together so as to fight against the effect of tobacco and its use, blaming the government of lack of political will to enact and implement the anti tobacco law.”

He said the links to the essay competition, which is exclusively for students in Junior Secondary School (JSS2) to Senior Secondary School (SSS2) are: http://www.nigeriaheart.org/2018-world-no-tobacco-day-essay-competiton/ and http://www.unanigeria.org/2018/05/nhf-unan-2018-world-no-tobacco-day-essay-competition/.

Chairman, Executive Council, NHF, Dr. Olufemi Mobolaji-Lawal, said it is important to take the awareness to schools because of the increasing use of tobacco among the youths.Mobolaji-Lawal highlighted that the World No Tobacco Day 2018 is an annual awareness day sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO) since 1987 to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and encourage governments to adopt effective policies to reduce smoking, smokeless tobacco and other form of uses.

According to WHO, tobacco use kills more than seven million people around the world each year and that number is predicted to grow unless anti tobacco actions are increased. The Chairman explained that in Africa, the number of smokers continue to increase progressively in spite of more than 52 countries that are signatory to WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) since 2005.

“Though the prevalence of tobacco use remains low in the Africa region, the positive economic growth in some countries and the rapid inflow of transnational tobacco companies in many African countries continue to contribute to increasing tobacco use rates. The implementation of the FCTC in Africa is still very poor amidst the stiff competition with the growing number of tobacco companies in Africa,” he said.

Mobolaji-Lawal added that globally, tobacco is recognized as a cause of heart disease, stroke, lung disease and other health problems and that the focus of World no Tobacco Day 2018 is ‘Tobacco and heart disease.’ tobacco use is a major risk factor for Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) including coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

Mobolaji-Lawal added: “CVD kills more people than any other cause of death worldwide. Tobacco use and second hand smoke exposure contribute to about 12 per cent deaths from heart diseases. Tobacco use is the second leading cause of CVD after high blood pressure.”

He explained that WHO encourages governments worldwide to protect people from the harms of tobacco through the creation of smoke free public places, workshops and public transportation, help for people who choose to quit tobacco such as toll free quit lines, implementation of plain packaging or prominent and graphic health warnings on tobacco packages, launching effective anti tobacco, mass media campaigns that educate their public about the harms of tobacco use and second hand smoke exposure, enforcement of comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promoting and sponsorship and increased taxes on tobacco products to make them less affordable.He also said that prizes ranging from laptops, tablets, mobile phones and smart watches would be awarded to winners of the essay at an event, which would hold to mark the day.

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Kingsley AkinroyeNHF
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