Despite worldwide concerted efforts by governments and other Non-State Actors, Nigeria remains amongst the community of nations that have expressed concerns but done little to tackle or curb the blooming epidemic of smoking. In Nigeria, the indulgent attitude of individuals that smoke coupled with their ignorance of the potential dangers has not helped situation. Most people smoke not knowing the implications of what they are doing to their health and others around. This is not peculiar to just males, but females as well.
There was a time when it was a taboo for females to hold cigarette not to talk of smoking them, but this days its becoming the norm with female actresses smoking in our home videos thus glamorizing the habit and encouraging more females to smoke. This is an antisocial act that calls for urgent action as it negates the efforts of the governments and concerned peoples of Nigeria to nip smoking in the bud.
Smoking, a habit, which at one time was considered fashionable and acceptable has been proven after many years of study to have linkages with many ailments hence it is as deadly as the scorpion sting. Smoking is a universal problem, which though may have peculiar geographical approaches in terms of solutions, yet remains one with the need for a collective global resolve in tackling. To date, no nation has ever admitted benefiting economically from smoking and we see numerous efforts made by nations across the globe to deal with this man-made monster.
The United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention describes tobacco use as "the single most important preventable risk to human health in developed countries and an important cause of premature death worldwide".
For Nigeria, the implication of unrestricted smoking environment is ominous as tobacco-related ailments take about 20 years to manifest. Thus the government should anticipate a huge epidemic of tobacco-related diseases in the coming years. The resultant strain on public healthcare would be enormous as the majority of these smokers are poor people who have no means to access treatment themselves. They will depend on the government to bear the cost. The most effective way to curb this epidemic is to totally ban it in all states of the federation.
To further reinforce this view, let us consider the following facts about smoking:
From the GAT Survey, Tobacco Use In 2012 saw 5.6% (4.7 million) Nigerian adults aged 15 years or older use tobacco products with a breakdown of 10.0% (4.2 million) of men and 1.1% (0.5 million) of women. Overall, 3.9% (3.1 million) of adults (7.3% of men and 0.4% of women) currently smoked tobacco, and 3.7% (3.1 million) of adults (7.2% of men and 0.3% of women) currently smoked cigarettes.
2.9% of adults (2.4 million) were daily smokers (5.6% of men, 0.3% of women) while 0.9% (0.8 million) were occasional smokers (1.8% of men and 0.1% of women). Daily cigarette smokers smoked an average of 8 cigarettes per day; 7 cigarettes per day in urban areas and 9 cigarettes per day in rural areas.
More than 60% of 20 to 34 year old males who had ever smoked on a daily basis started smoking daily before the age of 20 years. More than half of all current daily tobacco users (55.3%) have their first tobacco use of the day within 30 minutes of waking up. Smokeless tobacco products were used by 1.9% of adults (1.6 million) (2.9% of men and 0.9% of women). By region, South East has a higher percentage of smokeless tobacco users compared to other regions in Nigeria.
The good news is that together we can stop this epidemic from invading our territory. Join us in making this strong appeal for the National Assembly to pass comprehensive tobacco control legislation bill, follow us on twitter, add your voice by visiting our facebook page, like our post, drop your comments and share widely with others. Together we can make the change that we all desire.
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