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The Financial Express

World No Tobacco Day: Commit to Quit

| Updated: June 03, 2021 20:42:37


World No Tobacco Day: Commit to Quit

Every year on May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) observes 'World No Tobacco Day'. The objective of the day is to create awareness about the ill effects of tobacco use and how we can attain a tobacco-free future. Almost six million people die every year due to tobacco-related diseases. This number is anticipated to increase to more than eight million by 2030.

World No-Tobacco Day is meant to raise concerns about the risks of cigarettes and their negative impacts on health, as well as the exploitation of the nicotine industry, which targets young people. It also helps to reduce the number of illnesses and deaths caused by tobacco use.

This year, the World No Tobacco Day theme is "Commit to Quit." To create awareness, several events are organised by WHO to make people understand its harmful effects. However, just like last year, this year too, no public campaign will happen due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, virtual events can be organised to educate people through real-life stories.

Tobacco can cause many serious diseases, such as-- lung diseases, tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) etc. Not just these, it can also lead to lung cancer and oral cancer. According to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) data, tobacco accounts for approximately 30 per cent of all cancers in India. The WHO prohibited all cigarette advertising and marketing in 2008. China, as the world's most populous nation, dominates the tobacco industry. More than 30 per cent of the total cigarettes in the world are produced and consumed in China as per statistics.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to millions of tobacco users saying they want to quit. When evidence was released this year that smokers were more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19 compared to non-smokers, it triggered millions of smokers to want to quit tobacco. Quitting can be challenging, especially with the added social and economic stress that have come because of the pandemic, but there are a lot of reasons to quit. The WHO identifies 100 reasons to quit on which major ten reasons are:

  •  Smokers have a greater risk of developing a severe case and dying from COVID-19.
  •  Everything stinks! From your skin to your whole house, your clothes, and your fingers and breath.
  •  Tobacco causes teeth to become yellow and creates excess dental plaque.
  •  Smoking tobacco and the use of smokeless tobacco cause bad breath.
  •  Tobacco makes your skin wrinkly, making you look older faster. Smoking prematurely ages the skin by wearing away proteins that give the skin elasticity, depleting it of vitamin A and restricting blood flow.
  •  These wrinkles are more apparent around the lips and eyes and tobacco also makes skin leathery and dry.
  •  Tobacco smoking increases the risk of developing psoriasis, a noncontagious inflammatory skin condition that leaves itchy, oozing red patches all over the body.
  •  Over 1 million people die every year from exposure to second-hand smoke.
  •  Non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of developing lung cancer.
  •  Cigarettes remain an important cause of accidental fires and resulting deaths.

The benefits of quitting tobacco are almost immediate as under:

  • After just 20 minutes of quitting smoking, the heart rate drops.
  • Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • Within 2-12 weeks, the circulation improves and lung function increases.
  • Within 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • Within 5-15 years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker.
  • Within 10 years, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker.
  • Within 15 years, your risk of heart disease is that of a non-smoker.

In Bangladesh, the bad impacts of tobacco consumption take the lives of 25.54 per cent of adult men and 9.68 per cent women each year. At least 1,61,200 people die of various tobacco related diseases including cancer, stroke, and heart attacks every year. The number of deaths will continue to rise if an integrated tobacco control policy is not implemented quickly. The government must take a number of measures to control the consumption of tobacco, through imposing taxes and forming management policies for tobacco control.

WHO says that the campaign of "World No Tobacco Day" aims to support 100 million people worldwide in their attempt to give up tobacco through various initiatives and digital solutions. It will help create healthier environments that are conducive to quitting tobacco by advocating for strong tobacco cessation policies to promoting increased access to cessation services, raising awareness of tobacco industry tactics and empowering tobacco users to make successful attempts to quit through "quit & win" initiatives.

WHO says that the campaign of "World No Tobacco Day" aims to support 100 million people worldwide in their attempt to give up tobacco through various initiatives and digital solutions. It will help create healthier environments that are conducive to quitting tobacco by advocating for strong tobacco cessation policies to promoting increased access to cessation services, raising awareness of tobacco industry tactics and empowering tobacco users to make successful attempts to quit through "quit & win" initiatives.

Md Touhidul Alam Khan is Additional Managing Director of Standard Bank Limited, Bangladesh. He can be reached: [email protected]

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