Tuesday, January 21, 2014

8million lives is no joke

Smoking has been one of the major issues that has occupied the minds of the medical profession for the past four decades. Until the 1960s, there was no clearly detailed understanding alerting the nations of the consequences of smoking on the lives of individuals, and its impact on society as a whole. This in return has transformed the issue from one of individual and consumer choice, to one of epidemiology, public health, and risk for smokers and non-smokers alike.

More than 8 million lives has been saved since the anti-smoking campaign started in 1964 in US, not counting the effect it has had in other countries. Now this is a huge number as it shows an average of 160 000 lives per year over the fifty years in review. This is in contrast to the number of smokers recorded nationwide in some countries especially Bangladesh, Russia, Indonesia and China helping increase the global population of people who smoke to close 1billion in 2012. Perhaps it could have been double this number if anti-smoking campaigns did not take place recording significant success stories in different continents across the globe.

According to a number of studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the anti-smoking measures implemented in the U.S. following the 1964 report from then-Surgeon General Luther Terry that outlined the deadly consequences of tobacco consumption, has managed to save nearly 8 million of lives and a total of 157 million years of life. Terry’s report, which called for stringent measures to curb smoking habits among people, had sparked a massive campaign aided by tax increases, smoking restrictions and bans in public places among other measures. 

It is encouraging to know that there has been a steady progress over the past century, as now, a 40-year-old man can expect on average to live 7.8 years longer than he would have in 1964, and 30 percent of that improvement can be attributed to tobacco control. The gains for women have been slightly less, 5.4 years, but tobacco control accounts for 29 percent of that benefit," stated Theodore R. Holford, the lead author of the study.

Although there were increases in number of cigarettes consumed and global number of smokers over the past five decades, the researchers noted that global smoking prevalence and the number of smokers in proportion to the total population has declined.

While these countries celebrate this achievement, it is disturbing to know that the number of people who smoke in developing countries like Nigeria and other low and middle-income countries has increased over time, offsetting the progress made in countries such as the U.S., Canada, Iceland and Mexico, where smoking prevalence has decreased by nearly 50 percent.
As the overall number of smokers worldwide is still rising, this study shows how important it is for all countries to implement a range of tobacco control measures to curb the terrible and yet deadly toll of tobacco-related illness and death.

Therefore we urge all Nigerians at home and abroad to support our cause and join us in making this strong appeal for both chambers of the National Assembly to pass comprehensive tobacco control legislation that is enforced across the country NOW that the President signs into law speedily!

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