Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Anti-tobacco campaign not yet success

By Gbenro Adeoye

As the splatter of the morning rain sounded on the roofing of his workshop, Femi Abayomi, an artist, puffed harder on his cigarette, undeterred by the health warning now boldly written on cigarette packs.
Mr Abayomi says he is not yet ready to give up his smoking habit, a routine he has kept to for 18 years, adding that it would take more than “health warning prints” to kill his addiction to cigarette smoking.
“I’ve tried several times to drop the habit but it’s been very difficult to do, you know. Smoking has its own advantages; it prevents cold, relaxes the mind, induces sleep, and aids digestion,” he says.
Killer tobacco
According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), tobacco use is the second cause of death worldwide, after hypertension, killing one in 10 adults with more than five million deaths from related causes.
WHO also estimates that tobacco will be the leading cause of death worldwide by 2030, killing about 10 million people annually, with 70 to 80 per cent of the deaths occurring in low and middle income countries, like Nigeria.
Smokers’ doggedness
In spite of the frightening WHO data and various campaigns against tobacco smoking, many smokers continue to disregard the calls, arguing that available statistics do not substantiate the role of tobacco in the death of cancer patients.
“We don hear of people wey no dey smoke (non-smokers) who die of cancer, and we dey see old people wey don dey smoke since dem dey young, wey live old and don’t die of cancer, so nothing that say the cancer people get am from tobacco,” says Rabiu Jimoh, a road transport worker, who has been smoking for about 10 years.
The World No Tobacco Day was initiated in 1987 by the World Health Assembly to give the tobacco epidemic and its effects global attention, and promote adherence to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which highlights specific tobacco control measures.
Effecting a comprehensive ban
As stated in Article 13 of the Framework about putting a comprehensive ban on Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, the WHO over the weekend urged “governments to protect the world’s 1.8 billion young people by imposing a ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.”
Nigerian smokers have, however, argued that such an action would be counter-productive, as this would make youth more curious.
“Everyone already knows about cigarettes; it’s already a popular product. Complete banning of adverts will only make the young ones more curious, and want to try it out,” says Mr Abayomi.
Smoking in public places is already prohibited in Nigeria, an offence punishable by fine or imprisonment, but Mr Abayomi suggests that only visual effects of tobacco can deter smoking addicts and protect the youth from picking up the habit.
“If they start showing video footages of the health implications and effects to people, on T.V, at work, and in schools, that’s only when people will come to terms with the practical effects of everything,” Mr Abayomi says.