Search This Blog

Friday, March 11, 2011

Passive smokers risk lung cancer, chronic diseases

As at 8.30p.m., dinner had been ready over an hour ago, yet, Mrs. Tina Coker could not contemplate having her meal behind Charles, her husband.
Having cultivated the habit of waiting for family dinner from the on set of her marriage four years ago, Tina waited. For her, it was a routine. No sooner than Charles arrived 10 minutes later than the couple had their meal. Shortly afterwards, another routine exercise was set to take place. Charles brought out cigarette from the pocket of his trousers, struck a match and lit it. As he smoked and puffed the cigarette smoke, Tina simply sat back and watched unconcerned.
Although, Tina does not smoke, living with Charles has exposed her to cigarette smoke in the last four years. The main concern, however is that it does not bother her. Tina is not the only woman that is exposed to cigarette smoke. Thousands of women in rural and urban centres are equally exposed to cigarette smoke.
Although, many may not know the negative impact of smoking cigarette, which is finely ground tobacco wrapped in paper, research has shown that the use of tobacco, in any form at all, either smoking, chewing or snuff, is quite dangerous. To raise awareness on the danger that cigarette and other tobacco products pose to health, a seminar on the impact of tobacco on health held in Lagos last week.
Tagged, Protecting Women from Tobacco Smoke, the seminar was organised by the the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The event, which brought participants from the media, civil society groups and representatives of women organisations, among others took place in Ogba, Lagos.
WHO estimates that cigarette smoking kills one-third to one half of all lifetime users, and that smokers die an average of 15 years earlier than non-smokers.
According to the world body, in 2020, tobacco use will kill six million people worldwide. More frightening is the fact that 72 per cent of them live in low and middle-income countries including Nigeria. If the trend of tobacco use continues, WHO stated that tobacco will kill seven million people annually by 2020 and more than eight million people annually by 2030.
In her presentation, a Consultant Public Health Physician at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Dr. Kemi Odukoya said smoking causes diseases not only for smokers but for those inhaling the smoke.
The risks associated with tobacco use include diseases affecting the heart and lungs, with smoking being a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and cancer (particularly lung, cancers of the larynx and mouth, and pancreatic cancers).
According to a recent study, women who smoke are more likely to develop lung cancer than male smokers. Women also seem to need fewer cigarettes to do so.
Similarly, women also find it more difficult than men to quit.
Odukoya warned that the risk tobacco poses to health affects both smokers and people who inhale second hand smoke (SHS) or passive smokers. SHS also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke is the situation where people who do not smoke are exposed to tobacco smoke by people around them who smoke.
Besides, Odukoya noted that women are particularly at risk of SHS. Why are medical experts concerned about SHS?
Odukoya said inhaling smoke from other people’s cigarette is even more dangerous than individual smoking because it involves main stream smoking and side stream smoking. “Because we need to breathe to live, we keep inhaling the tobacco smoke,” she said, adding that this should be avoided.
“Though, not widely known, the effects of passive smoking can be as deadly and even the same as those who smoke directly,” stated ERA/FoEN. Most victims of second hand smoke are women and children, mostly the wives and children of those who smoke.
Others include people who work in public places such as bars with high smoking rates.
It is a fact that SHS can happen via exposure in homes, homes of friends, work places, public places including parties, parks, etc.
She urged Nigerians to advocate for smoking ban in public places and to promote smoke-free legislation.
In her presentation, Mrs Betty Abah, gender focal person, ERA/FoEN, called for speedy passage of the National Tobacco Control Bill, which is before the National Assembly.
The bill will ensure a 100 per cent smoke-free public places, ban all forms of tobacco advertisement and promotion, ban under-age smoking, ensure pictorial warnings on cigarette packs, among others.