Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Letting the numbers speak

A look at the number of people who smoke globally showed from 1980 to 2012 a drop from 26 percent to 18.7 percent. This was part of the findings in a study recently conducted by the University of Washington who undertook a detailed analysis of the impact of the presence or lack of tobacco control legislation across 182 countries.

It is therefore astonishing that while there is a drop in global rate of smokers, the actual number of smokers worldwide alongside the sheer number of cigarettes consumed are at an all time high. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the number of cigarettes smoked globally from 1980 to 2012 has jumped from 5trillion to 6.25trillion, an increase of  about 25 percent. 

In 1980, the number of adults who smoked daily was 721million worldwide whereas in 2012, the number of adults who smoked daily was 967.3 million people with the average daily smoking habit per user staying at eighteen cigarettes over the period in view. This is owing largely to the significant increase in the number of smokers in developing countries despite remarkable reductions in smoking numbers from developed countries.

 Sourced from SeattleTimes

However, there are models to follow amongst the community of developing countries when it comes to achieving success stories concerning the use of tobacco and its products. Two of these are Mexico and Uruguay. For example, since 1980, the smoking rate in Mexico has fallen faster than in the US as they have a policy in place requiring graphic warning labels be displayed on all cigarette packages. The study shows a current 10% smoking level in Mexico which 5 percent less than that of the US and Canada for instance.

Uruguay was the first country to adopt certain elements of WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This saw the introduction of higher cigarette taxes and restrictions on advertising that has brought dramatic results witnessing a 25 percent drop in just three years of smoking rates across the country.

This means that Mexico and Uruguay for instance, can divert both personal and national funds that would been spent on any tobacco-related deaths to other areas of need. This is instructive as the healthcare costs associated with tobacco use are simply enormous. 440,000 deaths arise from smoking in the US with associated health costs about $193billion. This means an average of almost $440000 is spent per smoke-related death. A number developing countries surely, cannot afford.

This suggests that its a matter of urgency for countries like Nigeria to take appropriate steps NOW to mitigate the impact of smoking on the health of her citizens over the next fifty years as a smoking lifestyle affects not just the smoker but others around them. One of such interventions is the need for increased public awareness and campaigns targeted at getting smokers to understand & map their choices with health challenges for their friends and family.

However, the most critical step to begin to see us write our own success story on tobacco control must be the WILL to first enact correct legislation regarding the use of tobacco and its products that is thereafter, enforced properly at local, state & federal levels. 

Research has shown that the economic growth of any country is closely linked to healthy well-being of her citizens. This is not a myth and accepting that healthcare rights are fundamental must be a key priority of any government since allows us as a society to maximise the productivity lifespan of each citizen.

For tobacco use in Nigeria, it is evident beyond any doubt we CANNOT afford to stand on our hands and fail to act. That action begins with the National Assembly enacting the right legislation to protect and prevent the future generations of Nigerians so we can help make our country a SMOKE-FREE zone!

To join us in making this strong appeal for the National Assembly to pass this bill, follow us on twitter, add your voice by visiting our facebook page, like our post, drop your comments and share widely with others. 

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