(NaturalNews) Smoking kills 6 million people every year around the world, and more than half a million non-smokers get affected from second hand smoke. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death. In fact, tobacco kills more people every year that alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. Unless more people quit smoking, this deadly habit could kill up to one billion people in the 21st century.
The World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is observed worldwide every year on May 31st to help smokers abstain from consuming tobacco for at least 24 hours, smokers are also encouraged to give up the habit for life.
WNTD was started in 1987, when the World Health Assembly (WHA) of the WHO passed a resolution which formed the initiative. The primary aim of WNTD is to educate people about the deadly nature of tobacco. Each year on this day WHO chooses a theme that carries a message to quit smoking and raise awareness on the dangers of smoking. This year the WHO has taken a new direction that stresses the legal side of tobacco prevention, as opposed to the typical "awareness" theme.
WHO is persuading more countries to sign a global treaty to ensure public protection from smoking. The treaty, 'The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control' (FCTC) is known as the world's primary tobacco cessation instrument, and is the focus for the theme this year. The treaty was drafted 6 years ago and 172 countries have signed it, though 20 percent have done nothing to implement it's recommendations. In addition, major countries such as the U.S. and Indonesia have not even signed it.
In the U.S. tobacco abuse is responsible for 440,000 deaths annually. Eighty percent of adult smokers begin smoking before age 18. Adolescents who smoke are more likely to drink heavily and more likely to use illicit drugs than their nonsmoking counterparts. In addition, adolescents who smoke are more likely to have panic disorders and other anxiety disorders.
In Indonesia there are 21 million child smokers. There is essentially nothing to stop companies promoting cigarettes to youth. In countries such as Brazil and Nigeria tobacco companies sponsor party nights to attract new young users. In Russia, women are persuaded to smoke by selling cigarettes branded by the fashion giant Yves Saint Laurent.
For countries that have signed the treaty, the WHO FCTC places certain requests including obligations to:
- Protect public health policies from commercial and other interests of the tobacco industry - Protect people from exposure to tobacco smoke - Warn people about the dangers of tobacco - Regulate the packaging and labeling of tobacco products - Offer people help to end their addiction to tobacco - Ban cigarette sale to and by minors - Support economically viable alternatives to tobacco growing
The WNTD campaign will focus on fully implementing the treaty to protect present and future generations from the consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure.
If more people give up smoking this will be a major victory for health services worldwide. It will help prevent millions of unnecessary deaths and save a huge amount in health care costs. Not to mention, the next generation will be healthier.
Something to think about:
How do you feel about inhaling insecticide, car exhaust, gas chamber poison, ant poison, floor cleaner, moth balls and nuclear weapons? This is what a smoker inhales in one puff. The insecticide is nicotine, car exhaust is carbon monoxide, the gas chamber poison is hydrogen cyanide, ant poison is ammonia, the mothballs is naphthalene and the nuclear power is radioactive compounds. Chewing tobacco has even additional deadly agents such as including formaldehyde used to embalm dead bodies, cadmium which is found in car batteries and lead found in paint.
About the author: Kshamica Nimalasuriya MD, MPH is a Preventive Medicine Physician involved with merging Media with Health, Open-Source Education, Herbal Medicine, Fitness, Nutrition, Wellness, and Love. She works on many initiatives bridging the global digital divide of health care education.