Did you know that tobacco products are the most littered item on the planet?
The World Health Organisation says so and these products contain over 7000 toxic chemicals, which leech into the environment when left unattended.
Dr Ruediger Krech, the Director of Health Promotion at WHO says “roughly 4.5 trillion cigarette filters pollute our oceans, rivers, city sidewalks, parks, soil and beaches every year.”
These consequences are among the reasons the world is commemorating “World No Tobacco Day” today, May 31.
The effects of tobacco and its related products on humans and the environment are so damning that a day had to be set aside to create public awareness since 1987.
Here are more devastating facts.
- About 8 million lives are lost due to the tobacco industry every year
- 1.2 deaths out of the 8 million are due to exposure to second-hand smoke
- 65 000 children die annually due to illnesses related to second-hand smoke.
- 600 million trees, 200 000 hectares of land, 22 billion tonnes of water and 84 million tonnes of CO2 are lost because of the tobacco industry.
This information is provided by the WHO. It is for this reason that the theme for this year’s celebration has been dubbed “Protect the environment”.
What causes these casualties?
Tobacco contains nicotine and this is highly addictive. When this gets into your brain after a puff, it increases the release of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, meant to help regulate mood and behavior.
According to Mayo Clinic, nicotine produces pleasing effects in your brain, but these effects are temporary.
Tobacco use is said to be a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and over 20 different types or subtypes of cancer.
It is reported that most tobacco-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Since Ghana is a lower-middle income country, according to the World, find out how Ghana is battling tobacco use.
Ghana and tobacco
Data from an NGO, Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction, reveals that 5,012 people die every year from tobacco-related illnesses.
The figure is out of the 3.5% adult population that smokes in the country.
Ghana became a party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on February 27, 2005.
In Ghana, there is the Tobacco Control Regulations, 2016 (L. I. 2247) and this law stipulates the use of tobacco.
Areas designated for smoking must be indoors to prevent smoke from spreading to non-smoke areas such as walkways or where people converge.
Section 7 of the law states that “a person shall not smoke in a private vehicle where a child or a pregnant woman is on board that vehicle.”
Persons who manufacture, import or sell tobacco or a tobacco product are to ensure that there is a text and form for the health warnings and messages on the packaging and labelling for tobacco products.
The Food and Drugs Authority is mandated by law to ensure these requirements are met.
How WHO is helping in the fight
The WHO has introduced MPOWER to tackle tobacco use.
M – monitoring tobacco use and preventive measures
P – protecting people from tobacco smoke
O – offering help to quit
W – warning about the dangers of tobacco
E– enforcing bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and;
R – raising taxes on tobacco
World Health Organisation every year honours governments and organisations for enforcing MPOWER.
This year, Jharkhand has been selected for the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) Award-2022.
Source: The Independent Ghana