NO fewer than five million people worldwide die from the effects of tobacco annually. Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris who stated this lamented that tobacco companies which spent millions of dollars each year lure new users into nicotine addiction of discount cigarettes like Kent, Camel, Winston etc.
Idris who stated this during a press briefing in Lagos on Tuesday to commemorate the World No Tobacco Day at Alausa, Ikeja, noted that through advertising and the use of carefully crafted package designs, the industry continues to divert attention from the deadly effects of the smoking products.
The commissioner, who harped on the theme for 2010 No Smoking Day celebration “Gender and Tobacco with emphasis on Marketing to Women” described the WHO statistics as alarming, adding that such disclosure should encourage all smokers to quit “today” to prevent future heartache and premature death.
Taking the path of Erika Keterre of South Africa, Idris called on all Nigerians to “help raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and prevent your daughters from becoming statistics in years to come”. Asserting the dangers that await smokers, Idris said that cigarette is the only legal consumer product that kills when used as the manufacturers’ intends.” Tobacco is leading preventable cause of disability and death “more than five million worldwide die from the effects of tobacco every year.”
He said that tobacco use among women causes variety of cancers, including cancer of the lung, mouth, and oesophagus. He added that smoking puts users at the danger of heart attack, strok, emphysema and other life threatening diseases.
Continuing, Idris said that women smokers are exposed to greater risks of developing cervical cancer, osteporosis, and other deadly conditions of reproductive system, including infertility and early menopause.
“In pregnancy, smokers are at higher risk of miscarriage, complications pregnancy, including bleeding during pregnancy, detachment of the placenta birth and ectopic pregnancy. Low birth weight of babies, congenital defects and still birth, Idris, disclosed are major health challenges that are caused by smoking.
Idris further said that even as children born to smokers have low concentration and reading rate as well increased chances of developing asthma, maintained that they are likely to become smokers when they grow, and also have increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cancer as adults.
Other health challenging conditions caused by smoking disclosed by Dr Idris disclosed include worsening asthmatic conditions, cold flu, chest infections, TB among others.
Idris decried the sophistication of tobacco marketing through advertising and promotional campaigns by manufacturers who devise every means to keep tobacco addicts hooked on to nicotine, adding “more worrisome is the fact that women are being extensively targeted for tobacco marketing, and tobacco companies have produced brands specifically for women.”
According to Idris, “attractive images of young smokers displayed in tobacco adverts are likely to instil the idea of initiation of smoking behaviour in adolescent minds”.