Interview: Smoking harmful to entire human body, not just lungs, says expert

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World No Tobacco Day 2018 aims to highlight the links between the use of tobacco products and heart and other cardiovascular diseases, increase awareness within the broader public of the impact tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke have on cardiovascular health.

Of the over 7 million tobacco-related deaths annually, about 3 million are from heart diseases and stroke, and close to 900,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke. "And one of the major factors impeding low- and middle-income countries is that certainly, countries face resistance from the tobacco industry that wishes to replace clients who die by freely marketing their products and keeping prices affordable for young people", says the WHO's Director of the Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, Douglas Bettcher.

"Although concrete actions and measures exist to stem the tide of tobacco related diseases, more needs to be done to further raise awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use".

The health secretary said ischemic heart diseases or the hardening of arteries continues to be the leading cause of death in the country with at least 74,000 cases recorded in 2016.

Country response: Over half of all WHO Member States have reduced demand for tobacco, and nearly one in eight are likely to meet the 30% reduction target by 2025. She also attributes the lower rates of smoking to an increase in taxes on nicotine.

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He therefore stated that "World No Tobacco Day is a chance for governments and the public to take firm action". Such measures, Ghebreyesus said, can help reduce the suffering of the people caused by heart diseases. Tobacco use is the second leading cause of CVD, after high blood pressure. Additionally, 20 per cent of stroke deaths are attributed to tobacco use, while most of the deaths attributed to tobacco use occur in Jamaicans 45-49 years old.

"It is shocking that with just a puff of cigarette, a smoker breathes more than 4,000 chemicals including arsenic which is used in rat poison and formaldehyde used to embark dead bodies". As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) Fact Sheet, it is believed that tobacco consumption will be killing over 1.5 million (15 lakh) people every year by 2020. Currently, one in four countries have insufficient data to monitor their tobacco epidemic.

The Strategy is supported by measures introduced through the new Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, which recently received Royal Assent, and through the increased funding for federal action on tobacco that was announced in Budget 2018 - the first significant increase in funding to address tobacco use in almost two decades.

She called on government to promulgate policies that regulate tobacco, promote smoke-free environments and encourage people to quit smoking as this will improve the health and well-being of all people.

Tobacco is the only legal drug that kills many of its users when used exactly as intended by manufacturers.

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