Health  

Why a ban on cigarettes should be next

Tobacco


Not too long ago, Nigeria celebrated the recent ban on the import and sale of cough syrup with codeine because of the high addiction rate and the dangerous health consequences associated with such addiction. This was a huge step in the right direction.

In that same manner, I hope that the ban on smoking and the sale of cigarettes would be next. Tobacco smoking is the single most important source of preventable morbidity in the world. But sadly, not much has been done to combat the scourge.

Tobacco kills half of its users and non-smokers that are constantly exposed to it. According to World Health Organization, tobacco smoking kills about 7 million people annually, and about a million of these people have never even smoked a day in their lives. They are victims of second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke is the smoke that fills enclosed spaces such as restaurants, offices etc when people are smoking. Unfortunately, non-smokers that are in such enclosed places also tend to suffer some of the consequences associated with cigarette smoke.

So for those that don’t smoke, but have a roommate or a partner, or a husband or wife who smokes, or visit restaurants and clubs filled with smoke every evening, you need to be more careful. The statistics above are damning and there is a need for the government to enforce laws that govern smoking in public places and ensure that risky behaviours such as smoking be stopped because it endangers others as well.

Recently, researchers have now started talking about third-hand smoke. Third-hand smoke is the residual nicotine and other chemicals left on surfaces by tobacco smoke. This residue has been shown to build up on surfaces such as in furniture, clothes, carpets, walls, beddings etc, and they can become airborne again long after smoking has stopped. This nicotine residue can react with other indoor pollutants to become highly toxic, even with no apparent smoke in the room.

People are exposed to these chemicals by touching these surfaces or even breathing the air. Third-hand smoke is a potential health hazard to everyone including non-smokers that come in contact with this toxic substance whether by inhaling or by touching, but what saddens me most is that young children are even more at risk.This is because young children and infants have a tendency to touch affected surfaces and put objects in their mouths thereby exposing them to the health hazards of tobacco smoke starting from a very young age.

Parents that smoke should take this into consideration and consider quitting. When parents smoke, even long after they have stopped smoking, their children are at risk of respiratory infections and diseases such as asthma which could tough on them. Hence, it is advisable for parents to stop smoking. If they don’t want to do it for themselves, they should do it for their children who are at risk because of their parents’ smoking habits.

Chemicals in tobacco smoke have been proven to be a risk factor for lung cancer and other lung diseases such as COPD, emphysema, asthma etc. and this risk increases with increasing exposure to smoke. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable diseases related to heart disease. It is responsible for 30%-45% of deaths due to heart disease. Smoking has been proven to be a direct risk factor for most cancers.

Tobacco smoking decreases fertility in men and women and makes it difficult for you to get pregnant. And if you do get pregnant, the chance of miscarriage is higher in women who smoke. Smoking by a pregnant woman increases the chance of having a baby who is underweight, having a premature baby or even worse, stillbirth or spontaneous abortion due to the high carbon monoxide in the fetus. Also, in male smokers, the chances of developing erectile dysfunction is very high and this is a common problem in a lot of men.

The good news is that this risk of death and all these smoking associated illnesses is decreased by half after 1 year of quitting, and after 15 years of quitting, the risk of death is the same as a person who has never smoked.

Quitting smoking can be one of the most difficult challenges a smoker might ever have to face. The desire to quit smoking and actually quitting requires motivation, commitment and support. This is due to the nicotine addiction. Most people might be more successful if they visit a doctor to help with this addiction.

There are various medications available that can help relieve the cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping smoking. Smokers who get the help of a doctor are five times more successful than if you go at it alone. You might not succeed at quitting smoking the first time you try but try again. Smoking cessation requires an average of 3 – 6 attempts. Quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do to live longer. Think of your health, the health of the innocent people around you, think of your coworkers, your loved ones, and most especially, think of the very young children that are exposed daily to third-hand smoke. Stop it before it stops you.

Disclaimer: The medical information provided on here by Dr Nini Iyizoba is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment

In this article:
Nini Iyizoba


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