– About 93 million sticks of cigarette are produced yearly in the country and every one of those cigarettes is consumed here in Nigeria.
-Â World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that about 1.3 billion people in the world are currently smoking and most of them are in developing countries.
-Â Tobacco kills close to five million people yearly worldwide with over 70 percent occurring in developing countries including Nigeria. It is the cause of death of 17.7 per cent of all deaths in developed countries.
– By 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) expects the worldwide death toll from smoking to reach 10 million.
Â -Â Tobacco is responsible for over 25 diseases in man, including hypertension,Â Â heart attack, cancer and other conditions such as asthma, emphysema. It is also responsible for some pregnancy-related problems and other conditions such as tuberculosis, blindness, deafness and nutritional and psychological disorders.
– Tobacco kills 50 per cent of lifetime smokers and half of these deaths occur among people in their middle age (35-69years).
The extremely high tar content of the Nigerian tobacco was highlighted by the trio of Awotedu, Higenbottam and Onadeko in a study conducted in 1983 (J Epidemiology Community Health 1983; 37:218-20). It should be emphasised here that the dangers of smoking are directly proportional to the tar content of cigarettes. Tobacco smoke pollution has been classified as a known human carcinogen in the USA. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general. Smoking also harms people of all ages. For instance, toxic ingredients in cigarette smoke travel throughout the body, causing damages in several ways. Nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds after smoke is inhaled and it has been found in every part of the body, breast milk inclusive.
Smoking has been implicated in the following disease conditions or states:
Ocular Histoplasmosis (Fungal Eye Infection)
Acute Necrotising Ulcerative Gingivitis (Gum Disease)
Reduced Sperm Count
Dysmenorrhoea (Painful periods)
Optic Neuropathy (Vision loss)
This month (October 2008), Dr Julie Pasco of the University Of Australia, Melbourne published the outcome of a research that showed that smoking increases the risk of major depressive disorder by 93% in women who smoke, compared to those who do not smoke. The odds are said to more than double for those who smoke in excess of more than 20 cigarettes a day. Dr Pasco concluded: â€œIt is becoming increasingly clear that smoking is not innocuous to mental health and may in fact aggravate mental illness or contribute to its onsetâ€.
It is common practice for cigarette packets to carry warnings approved by health authorities but none ever lists the diseases caused by smoking. In appreciation of this significant deficiency, Reuters reported on Saturday 27 September, 2008 the efforts of the British authorities to further inform its populace on the dangers of smoking via warnings on packets. This report states as follows: â€œGruesome pictures of rotting teeth and throat cancer tumours will appear on all tobacco products in Britain from next month as the government steps up its campaign to encourage the country’s 10 million smokers to quit. The images will be printed on the back of cigarette packs to illustrate written health warnings introduced in 2003, the Department of Health said on Saturday. The photos also include a flaccid cigarette to depict male impotence and a comparison of healthy and tar-filled lungsâ€. The concerns of the British authorities are justified considering that smoking is Britain’s single killer, causing the premature death each year of 87,000 people in England alone.
The introduction of photo warnings was a desperate action by concerned governments over a habit that refused to abate despite numerous interventions. Canada was the first country to put photo warnings on cigarettes in 2001. In Europe, Belgium and Romania followed suit but Britain will be the first in the European Union. Britain intends to put photo warnings not only on cigarette packs, but also hand-rolling tobaccos and cigars. Britain is taking this extra step despite the ban on smoking in enclosed places imposed in July 2007.
Another positive action to combat the menace of smoking was the recent effort by the leaders of one of the most populous nations on earth. On the 2nd of October 2008, India became the latest country to take measured actions at combating smoking. A ban on public smoking came into effect nation-wide. The law aimed at fighting tobacco use which has been responsible for a fifth of all deaths in the worldâ€™s third-largest consumer of tobacco. India has nearly 240 million of tobacco users (more than the entire population of Nigeria). A fine of Â£2.00 was also imposed on those caught breaking the fan. A token penalty may be, but significant nevertheless.