Smoking is destroying your lungs!
Every year, on May 31, the World Health Organization and partners mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2019 focuses on “Tobacco and lung health.” This theme emphasizes the negative impact that tobacco has on people’s lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease and the fundamental role lungs play in the health and well-being of all people.
In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the latest National Health and Nutrition Survey showed that tobacco smoking is a major public health concern. More and more young people are starting to smoke at very young age. There is also the local habit of smokers of marijuana mixing it with tobacco.
Cigarette smoking is one of the leading preventable cause of death globally. Smoking causes a considerable number of deaths each year. The effects of smoking are serious. It can harm nearly every organ of the body. It causes nearly one of every five deaths in the United States each year. I am sure that it causes almost an equal number of deaths in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, if we do the studies.
Smoking increases the risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions. Some may be fatal and others can cause irreversible long-term damage to your health. You can become ill if you smoke yourself and through other people’s smoke (passive smoking). Smoking causes about 90 percent of lung cancers. It also causes cancer in many other parts of the body, including the mouth, lips, throat, larynx (voice box), oesophagus, bladder, stomach and pancreas. Smoking also damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing your risk of developing conditions such as disease, heart, stroke, peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels) and cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain). Smoking also damages your lungs, leading to conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Smoking can also worsen or prolong the symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma, or respiratory tract infections such as the common cold. In men, smoking can cause impotence, because it limits the blood supply to the penis. It can also reduce the fertility of both men and women.
Second-hand smoke comes from the tip of a lit cigarette and the smoke that the smoker breathes out. Breathing in second-hand smoke – also known as passive smoking – increases your risk of getting the same health conditions as smokers. For example, breathing in second-hand smoke increases a non-smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer by about a quarter. Babies and children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke. A child who is exposed to passive smoke is at increased risk of developing chest infections, meningitis, a persistent cough and, if they have asthma, their symptoms will get worse. They’re also at increased risk of cot death and an ear infection called glue ear.
Women who are pregnant and smoke also have health risks. If you smoke when you’re pregnant, you put your unborn baby’s health at risk, as well as your own. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of complications such as miscarriage, premature (early) birth, a low birth weight baby and stillbirth. Remember that the pregnant mother doesn’t have to smoke and she can be exposed to smoke if her partner smokes at home.
Quitting smoking is the single most important step a smoker can take to improve the length and quality of his or her life. This not only improve his life but the life of others around him. Speak to someone today to help you.
Dr. Rosmond Adams, MD; MSc (Public Health); M.S (Bioethics) is a medical doctor and a public health specialist with training in bioethics and ethical issues in medicine, the life sciences and research. He is a lecturer of medical ethics and Research Methods.
He is the Head of Health Information, Communicable Disease and Emergency Response at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). He is also a member of the World Health Organization Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of NCDs.
(The views expressed here are that of the writer and not of any organizations). You may contact him at [email protected]