Some Facts About Tobacco

Tobacco kills. It causes 4 million deaths per year and there are 1.1 billion smokers. Half of these deaths occur in the productive middle age. By 2030, it will cause 10 million deaths per year if the smoking patterns do not change.

Every day, thousands of young people around the world are trying their first cigarette and 80,000 to 100,000 are becoming regular smokers, often precipitating a lifetime of addiction and untimely death.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that unless we take every action to change the trend, 250 million children alive today eventually will die from smoking. Those who die from smoking, die on average 14 years earlier. One-third of them will die prematurely because of their dependence on smoking.

In the future, tobacco will become the leading cause of death and disability, thus causing more deaths worldwide than HIV, TB, maternal mortality, MVA, suicide and homicide.

Tobacco is a dangerous product and hazardous to health. Four thousand compounds have been identified in tobacco smoke and at least 43 chemicals in tobacco smoke have been determined to be carcinogenic, such as TAR – used in making roads; naptilamine – used in making paint; hydrogen cyanide [HCN] – used as poison gas; benzyl alcohol and amyl alcohol; ammonia – a gas that gives urine its smell.

Tobacco also contains nicotine, a substance that is recognised to be addictive by international medical associations. Tobacco dependence is listed in the International Classification of Diseases.

Tobacco must be seen as a drug, not as a mere agricultural product. Smoking causes avoidable disease, premature deaths and unnecessary suffering. Ecologists consider tobacco production and consumption as wasteful in all aspects.

There are more than 25 tobacco related diseases known today including cancers of the lungs, lips, oral cavity, pharynx, oesophagus, pancreas, larynx, trachea, bronchus and urinary bladder.

About 90% of lung cancer deaths (30% of all cancer), 80% of cases of chronic bronchitis and emphysema and 20 to 25% of coronary heart disease and stroke deaths are attributable to tobacco use.

Nicotine itself has wide-ranging effects. It increases heart rate, blood flow and blood sugar.

To sustain an addiction which would otherwise tend to die out, the tobacco industry spends million of dollars on advertising. This is thwarting the efforts of both the government and non-government agencies, to make people free from this bad habit.

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