"Tobacco health warnings"—
the theme for this year's No Tobacco Day
on May 31st
, reinforces the need to step up graphic warnings on tobacco packages to discourage consumers from using tobacco
in any form—smoking cigars, cigarettes,
water pipes, hookah and beedis and the non smoking version such as chewing tobacco
or sniffing powdered tobacco
Several international studies have proved that effective health warnings, especially graphic details of the health hazards of tobacco
can motivate users to quit using tobacco and discourage first timers from getting into the habit. More and more countries are beginning to follow the guidelines drafted in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and putting up a spirited fight to beat the tobacco industry as it tries to lure more hapless people into tobacco addiction. Tobacco Trouble
Unable to plug tobacco at the supply level, health organizations all over the world issue repeated warnings about the devastating effects of tobacco on the health of consumers -especially smokers, and also on hapless people who are passive smokers or second hand smokers, inhaling the toxic smoke released by smokers.
Strong medical evidence supports the fact that using tobacco seriously affects many organs of the body, causing various diseases and reducing overall health. Several studies have shown the negative health effects of cigarette smoking on people of all ages -unborn fetus, infants, young children, adults and seniors.
Some of the health risks of tobacco include lung cancer, oral cancer, cancers of the stomach, bladder, kidney and pancreas, impotence, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks angina and stroke. Shocking Smoking Statistics and Facts
Specific Tobacco Health Warnings Needed
- There are currently more than 1.1 billion smokers in the world and the number could increase to 1.6 billion by 2025
- Approximately 10 million cigarettes are purchased each minute worldwide
- Benzene in cigarette smoke is a known cause of acute myeloid leukemia
- One in five teens in the world begins smoking when 13 years old
- Every 8 seconds someone dies of tobacco use in the world (approx 5 million deaths annually)
- Passive smoking (second hand smoke) takes in over 50% cancer-causing chemical compounds
According to a recent WHO observation, though there is a general awareness in many countries that tobacco harms health, consumers lack specific knowledge of the serious health risks of tobacco.
Studies done in Asia and Africa support this disparity in knowledge.
- only 37% of smokers knewsmoking causes coronary disease
- only 17% of smokers knew it causes stroke
- though 95% of physicians knew smoking causes lung cancer, only 66% of physicians knew it causes heart disease
- less than 50% of school and college students in Gujarat knew Gutka (popular mix of betel nut and tobacco) causes oral cancer
- 58% of those who chew areca nut and tobacco in Tamil Nadu were unaware of the serious health hazards
- 50% of school children believed smoking water pipe was less harmful than smoking cigarettes (it is equally harmful)
- though 87% of those who responded knew the harmful effects of smoking, only 58% knew smoking causes cancer and only 36% related heart problems to smoking
Kick the Butt Now
Cigarette smoking and all other kinds of tobacco use are addictive because nicotine in tobacco triggers addiction similar to heroin or cocaine addiction. Nicotine is known to cause chemical changes in the brain that make nicotine addiction a physical dependency. Withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, hunger, insomnia, decreased heart rate and blood pressure are common. There are several 'Quit Smoking Aids' available world wide to help people addicted to smoking.
Studies show that the people have quit smoking for reasons such as health concerns, life style changes, having a baby, high cost of cigarettes or death of a friend or family member. The most common reason smokers put forward for not kicking the butt is lack of will power.
True to the maxim "A picture is worth a thousand words,"
the WHO is exhorting all countries to display pictorial warnings on tobacco packages so that the message of the evils of tobacco reaches the literate and the illiterate. With tobacco traders continuously stepping up sale of tobacco products, health experts are aware that it is getting increasingly difficult to persuade people to give up the nicotine craving, which is a leading cause of preventable death. Scaring people into giving up the obnoxious use of tobacco by displaying horror pictures of tobacco -related diseases should hopefully do the trick and help consumers shake free of their tobacco addiction.