Tobacco Epidemic Kills 6 Million Worldwide

The World No Tobacco Day is upon us!  On Thursday, 31 May 2012 the World Health Organization’s campaign is designed to help educate policy-makers and the general public about the tobacco industry’s perverse and harmful tactics to devastate the public’s health.

According to the World Health Organization, “Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death. The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are people exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless we act, it will kill up to 8 million people by 2030, of which more than 80% will live in low- and middle-income countries.”

Cigarette smoking is still very common despite the known hazards to one’s health. One of the primary objectives of this column is to reduce the occurrence of the devastating health conditions and reduce healthcare costs associated with the diseases caused by smoking. If your health is not enough to encourage you to quit, perhaps the health of your family and friends will play a part in the decision process.

Smoking during pregnancy is very common and causes significant harm to you and your baby’s health before and after your baby is born. Hazardous chemicals such as nicotine, carbon monoxide and a variety of other poisons inhaled during smoking go directly to your baby.

Smoking during pregnancy has been found to cause the following:

–          Decreases vital amounts of oxygen to organ and brain tissue.

–          Increases chemical stress causing an elevation of heart rate and blood pressure.

–          Increases the risk of pre-eclampsia, miscarriage and still birth.

–          Increases respiratory distress and the development of lung disease.

There is a direct relationship between the amount of cigarettes smoked per day and the chance of severe complications for the mother and the baby.  There is no safe amount of smoke before, during or after pregnancy. It is very common for individuals who smoke to have friends, family and colleagues that smoke as well. Why is this important?  It commonly affects the ability to quit smoking.

The constant exposure to smoke and secondhand smoke significantly increases the risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, allergies, asthma and other respiratory related conditions. The only solution is to reduce your exposure or quit smoking altogether.

The following facts about the health benefits of smoking cessation are provided by the World Health Organization.

There are immediate and long-term health benefits of quitting for all smokers:

Within 20 minutes — Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.

12 hours — The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

2-12 weeks — Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

1-9 months — Coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

1 year — Your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker.

5 years — Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.

10 years — Your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker and your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decreases.

15 years –The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s.

How Can I Quit Smoking?

Smoking cessation programs are not readily available in many countries around the world. The following steps have been found to increase your success:

-Hide the matches, lighters, and ashtrays.

-Designate your home and family areas as non-smoking.

-Kindly ask people who smoke not to smoke close to you.

-Eliminate caffeinated beverages; caffeine commonly stimulates your urge to smoke.

-Avoid alcohol as it increase your urge to smoke and can also harm your baby.

-Change your habits connected with smoking and substitute other activities.

-Physical activity helps relieve tension: take a walk and engage in exercise.