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Friday, April 13, 2012

‘Two per cent of men’s deaths in Nigeria caused by tobacco’

At least two per cent of all deaths of men in Nigeria every year is related to tobacco use, a new global report has shown.
 The 2012 Tobacco Atlas said this is the most preventable cause of death in the country and globally.  $591 million is lost annually by the country to tobacco use in terms of health care and related expenses. Besides, it shows that Nigerians smoke about 17 billion sticks of cigarette annually. 
The Atlas, which is the world’s most comprehensive analysis of tobacco related activities, shows that 21.7 per cent of youths are exposed to second hand smoke in their homes and as such are at risk of cancer and other allied diseases. 
Girls who use tobacco are put at 1.3 per cent, while boys, between ages 13 and 15 who use tobacco, stand at 5.6 per cent. The percentage of men who use tobacco is put at 8. 
Experts say if this trend continues,  the country will soon be dealing with a tobacco epidemic.  A tobacco control activist, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “ This madness must be stopped before it consumes more people. Imagine the number of people dying annually from the killer products of the tobacco giants. This sure must stop, and a way of doing that is to have the Tobacco Control Bill signed into law and implemented.”
Akinbode added: “We have to prevent a situation where Nigeria will become Europe or America where at least 20 per cent of all male deaths have been blamed on cigarette smoking. In China, tobacco use is the number one killer, causing 1.2 million deaths annually and this is expected to rise to 3.5 million deaths annually by the year 2030. We must not get to this state.”
The report said last year, tobacco use killed about six million people globally, with nearly 80 per cent of these deaths in low- and middle-income countries such as Nigeria. It shows that the industry realises almost $6,000 (Sh498,000) in profit for each death caused by tobacco. 
President, American Cancer Society (ACS) John Seffrin said tobacco giants’ activities in countries like Nigeria calls for concern. Seffrin said they are already growing in developing countries. “We can no longer deny or accept the massive human and economic harm costs by tobacco,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer, World Lung Foundation Peter Baldini  said:”The tobacco industry thrives on ignorance of the true harms of tobacco and using misinformation to subvert health policies that could save millions.” 
The high number of deaths has made the WHO recommend higher cigarette prices to make them unaffordable to children and make the habit expensive for regular smokers. 
A professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of Benin, Edo State, Friday Okonofua, said: “Indeed, the rising cases of cancer deaths in Nigeria is becoming a national embarrassment, It is my considered opinion that the government needs to develop a comprehensive policy on cancer prevention and treatment, and set up an emergency task force to implement the related plan of action. Such a policy must be hinged on the tripod of the prevention of cancers, early recognition of the disease and prompt treatment. We must go back to the days of Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti when he emphasized the importance of preventative health care. I dare say, our failure to heed his advice has continued to plague our health care system and is the major reason for the continued under-performance of this country in key health indicators.”
The Atlas, produced by the ACS in partnership with  the World Lung Foundation and endorsed by the WHO, noted:  “Worldwide, smoking causes almost 80 per cent of male and nearly 50 per cent of female lung cancer deaths.
 “Uniquely among cancer-causing agents, however, tobacco is a man-made problem that is completely preventable through proven public policies.  These cost-effective policies are among those included in the WHOs Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global treaty endorsed by more than 174 countries.”