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World No Tobacco Day

World No Tobacco Day

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World No Tobacco Day, on the 31st May, turns it focus this year to governments for higher tobacco taxes, placing the spotlight on the health risks associated with unchecked tobacco use. Tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death globally and is responsible for an estimated 10 % of adult deaths worldwide, making 31 May a very important date on the world health calendar.1

Allison Vienings, Executive Director of the Self-Medication Manufacturers Association of South Africa (SMASA), says the danger of tobacco is in the way it works. “Because there is a gradual decline in health over several years between the start of tobacco use and the physical sign of disease and illness, tobacco becomes an inconspicuous killer.”

Tobacco caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century and if current trends continue, it may cause one billion deaths in the 21st century.2 An approximate six million people worldwide die due to tobacco use annually, of which 600 000 are non-smokers dying from second hand-smoke.

In South Africa, an estimated 7.7 million adults use tobacco, with a staggering 29.5 billion cigarettes being consumed annually.3 Tobacco-related diseases kill over 44 000 South Africans annually, according to the World Health Organisation.4

“Following a healthy diet and exercising regularly becomes a wasted effort if you continue to smoke. Cigarettes contain more than 4 000 chemical compounds and at least 400 toxic substances, and include products such as tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide,” explains Vienings.5

If the ingredients contained in cigarettes do not leave a bad taste in your mouth, spare a thought for those around you. The health of non-smokers is compromised through exposure to second-hand smoke. Inhaling second-hand smoke increases a non-smoker's risk of developing lung cancer or heart disease by about 25 %.6

Some of the diseases associated with second-hand smoke include heart disease, lung cancer and irritation of the eyes and nose in adults, and increased occurrences and worsening of asthma, coughing, wheezing, breathlessness and pneumonia in children and infants.7

Smoking – The benefits of quitting:

The benefits of quitting can include a lower risk of diabetes, blood vessels function better, and helps the heart and lungs. “It’s never too late to start taking better care of your overall health and wellbeing and leading a healthier lifestyle,’’ says Vienings.

Though it’s best to quit while you’re younger, quitting at any age allows you to put a brake on the effects of smoking and to take back the life and health that would be lost through continued smoking. See SMASA’s infographic for more on the benefits of quitting.

“Regular exercise and substituting cigarettes with the disease-fighting nutrients of fruits and vegetables are some of the healthy options to fight cravings when trying to quit,8’’ says Vienings.

SMASA urges every South African to start taking better care of themselves through healthy eating, exercise and avoid lifestyle choices such as smoking that can lead to numerous health complications and disease.

1. http://www.who.int/campaigns/no-tobacco-day/2014/event/en/
2. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/
3. http://www.tobaccosa.co.za/browse.php?catid=105&sub=16
4. http://www.mycancer.co.za/news.html
5. http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/health_advice/facts/smokehealth.htm
6. http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2344.aspx?CategoryID=53
7. http://www.quit.org.au/about/frequently-asked-questions/faqs-passive-smoking/diseases-secondhand-smoke.html
8. http://www.webmd.boots.com/smoking-cessation/ss/slideshow-13-best-stop-smoking-tips-ever-slideshow