Family Affair

By Dr Nma Olebara WORLD NO SMOKING DAY

World No smoking Day is observed throughout the world on May 31. The member states of the World Health Organization WHO created it in 1987 to encourage 24 hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption across the globe and also draw global attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use including the negative effect which currently leads to deaths worldwide annually.

Tobacco is a stimulant; it contains nicotine and is extremely popular and well known for its additive potential.

A cigarette is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. It is grown in significant qualities in Brazil, Cameroun. Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines and the Eastern United States.

Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide and in the form of nicotine tartrate,it is used in some medicines. In consumption, it may be in form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dripping tobacco or snus consumed by people and made out of cut tobacco leaves. A cigarette has smaller size, composed of processed leaf and white paper wrapping.

Cigarette refers to similar devices that contain other herbs such as cannabis.

Those who inhale smoke are called smokers and those who smoke regularly are called chain smokers or heavy smokers. They breathe in smoke through cigarettes, cigar, and pipes and let it out again.

Smoking is not a must like food and water. But many people have become so addicted to it that they can live without food and drink for days but not without a smoke.

There is a limit to the quantity of food and drink that a human being can consume because after a while he loses appetite but in the case of smoking, there is no limit. Some light cigarette one after the other without a stop while others have their pipe always in their mouth. Children or young people have gotten into this bad habit imitating the elders including parents and senior members in the family, associates, friends and peer groups. It is easy to start smoking but very difficult to stop. They do it not realizing the harmful effects it causes to them in the long run, even though it does not belong to the category of hard drugs.

People who psychologically depend on nicotine may find that they feel an urge to smoke when find that they feel an urge to smoke when they are in specific surroundings such as liquor shops or pubs. Research I carried out with smokers shows that smoking is associated with different role meaning  for them, namely enjoyment of  the company of friends, helping themselves to deal with stress and anxiety, providing companionship, providing a break from  work or activities and relieving boredom.

The effects of smoking on human health are very serious and in many cases deadly. There are approximately 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes, hundreds of which are toxic or containing poison. These ingredients affect everything from the internal functioning organs to the efficiency of the body’s immune system.

The effects of cigarette smoking are destructive and widespread. Toxic ingredients in cigarette smoking travel throughout the body causing damage in several ways. Nicotine reaches very part of the body and mixes up even with the breast milk of feeding mothers. Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin- the red substance in the blood that carries oxygen. The affected cells are then prevented from carrying the full load of oxygen.

Tobacco causes a number of cancers.  Carcinogens or substances that cause cancer are contained in tobacco smoke. These substances damage important genes that control the growth of cells, causing them to grow abnormally or to reproduce too rapidly. The carcinogen benzo (a) pyrene binds to cells in the airway or the passage from the nose and throat to the lungs, through which one breathes and the major organs of smokers.

Smoking affects the functioning of the immune system and may increase the risk of respiratory and other infections. Lung cancer from smoking is caused by the tar in tobacco smoke. Men who smoke are ten times more likely to die from lung cancer than non smokers.

The mixture of nicotine and carbon monoxide in each cigarette one smokes temporary increases one’s heart rate and blood pressure, straining one’s heart and blood vessels. This can cause heart attacks and strokes. It slows one’s blood flow, cuffing oxygen to one’s feet and hands. Carbon monoxide robs one’s muscles, brain and body tissues of oxygen making one’s whole body and especially one’s heart work harder. No wonder many smokers die of heart attack and strokes.

Smoking causes disease and is a gradual way to die. The strain put on one’s body by smoking often causes years of suffering. Emphysema is an illness that slowly rots one’s lungs. People with it often get bronchitis again and again and suffer lung and heart failure. Smoking causes fat deposits to narrow and block blood vessels which lead to heart attack.

If a smoker suddenly stops or reduces the amount he takes, he will experience withdrawal symptoms like craving, irritability, agitation, depression and anxiety, insomnia or the condition of being unable to sleep, increased appetite and weight gain, restlessness and loss of concentration, headache, coughing and sore throats, aches and pains in the body.

The World No Tobacco Day has been met with both enthusiasm and resistance across the globe from government, public health organizations, smokers, growers and the tobacco industry. For some, it is nothing more than “futile attempt to curb smoking”, others see it as a challenge to individual freedom of choice or even a culturally acceptable form of discrimination.

The theme for 2011 is “The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco control. “Knowing full well that life is precious and good health is the panacea for long life, people should quit smoking completely. The control has become imperative because smokers not only destroy themselves but the environment. Some people in the vicinity are adversely affected when someone smokes. They inhale the smoke puffed out by smokers.

Considering the health implication involved in cigarette smoking, National Assemblies should enact a law restricting the advertisements that promote the sale of cigarettes. SAY NO TO CIGARETTE SMOKING BECAUSE SMOKERS ARE LIABLE TO DIE YOUNG.

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