Text by Henrylito D. Tacio
People from all over the world are smoking less. From 1.32 billion smokers in 2015, it went down to 1.30 billion last year, according to data released recently by the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO).
The fourth WHO global tobacco trends report estimates that the number is expected to continue to drop to 1.27 billion by 2025.
“Sixty countries are now on track to achieving the voluntary global target of a 30% reduction by 2025, an increase from two years ago, when only 32 countries were on course,” the WHO said in a press statement.
The numbers are very encouraging, says WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, but more work must be done. “We still have a long way to go, and tobacco companies will continue to use every trick in the book to defend the gigantic profits they make from peddling their deadly wares,” he said.
Ruediger Krech, Director of WHO Department of Health Promotion, attributed some of the progress to measures aligned with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) while maintaining that success is “fragile.”
“It is clear that tobacco control is effective, and we have a moral obligation to our people to move aggressively in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals link,” he pointed out.
If you haven’t tried smoking yet, don’t. And if you are already smoking, you better quit before it’s too late. Otherwise…
“Tobacco kills one person every four seconds,” the United Nations health agency says. Despite a steady reduction in tobacco use globally, tobacco still kills over 8 million people every year. Another one million die due to second-hand smoke exposure.
A report by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance in 2014 showed the Philippines has about 17 million smokers – or nearly a third of the adult population. Nearly half of all Filipino men and 9% of women smoke. The study said the habit costs the economy nearly $4 billion a year in healthcare and productivity losses.
If you smoke, there’s no way you can escape from its consequences. The reason why cigarettes harm nearly every organ of the body is due to what it contains. The WHO says there are some 4,000 known chemicals in tobacco smoke.
“When burned, cigarettes create more than 7,000 chemicals,” the American Lung Association states. “At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are toxic. Many of these chemicals are also found in consumer products but these products have warning labels. (But) there is no such warning for the toxins in tobacco smoke.”
Among the chemicals found in tobacco smoke and where these are also found: acetone (found in nail polish remover), acetic acid (an ingredient in hair dye), ammonia (a common household cleaner), arsenic (used in rat poison), benzene (found in rubber cement and gasoline), butane (used in lighter fluid), and cadmium (the active component in battery acid).
Here are more chemicals: carbon monoxide (released in car exhaust fumes), formaldehyde (embalming fluid), lead (used in batteries), naphthalene (an ingredient in mothballs), methanol (a main component in rocket fuel), nicotine (used as an insecticide), tar (material for paving roads), and toluene (used to manufacture paint).
“Smoking causes addiction to nicotine, a stimulant drug that is in tobacco,” says the website medlineplus.gov. “Nicotine addiction makes it much harder for people to quit smoking.” That’s why if you haven’t started smoking, don’t do it!
It’s no wonder why smoking is hazardous to your health. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.
Estimates show smoking increases the risk for coronary heart disease and stroke by 2-4 times and of developing lung cancer for men by 25 times and for women by 25.7 times. “Smoking causes diminished overall health, increased absenteeism from work, and increased health care utilization and cost,” the CDC reminds.
Smoking can cause lung disease by damaging your airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) found in the lungs. Lung diseases caused by smoking include COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
“Tobacco smoking is the most important risk factor for COPD, causing swelling and rupturing of the air sacs in the lungs, which reduces the lung’s capacity to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide,” the WHO says.
One in five smokers will develop COPD – which causes episodes of breathlessness, coughing, and mucus production – in their lifetime, and almost half of COPD deaths are attributable to smoking, the United Nations health agency says.
Cigarette smoking causes most cases of lung cancer. “Smokers are up to 22 times more likely to develop lung cancer in their lifetime, compared with non-smokers,” the WHO says. “Non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke at home or in the workplace have a 30% higher risk of developing lung cancer.”
According to WHO, tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year, over 7 seven million of whom die as a direct result of smoking tobacco while around 1.2 million others from second-hand smoke.