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Anti-smoking culture curses big tobacco

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Tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and currently kills 1 in 10 adults. It’s documented that tobacco kills up to half of its users.

Nearly 6 million people die every year via cancer, heart disease, lung disease and other chronic, long-term health conditions associated with smoking. Over the course of the 21st century, tobacco use could kill up to a billion people.

“Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death. Unless we act, it will kill up to eight million people by 2030, of which more than 80% will live in low- and middle-income countries,” says the World Health Organisation (WHO).

To help reduce tobacco use, the WHO highlights the importance of counteracting “the deceptive and misleading nature of tobacco marketing campaigns”. Governments and civil society must work together to limit exposure of youth to tobacco.

Tobacco growing in Zimbabwe is big business generating about $800 million in 2012. The production of tobacco may benefit men, women and youths financially only to turn around and pay for sickness and disease.

“Zimbabwe like many other developing African countries is faced by increasing prevalence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in addition to existing high rates of communicable diseases,” says Mrs Junior Mavu, General Manager of the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe.

“Tobacco use is a risk factor in the development of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases and it is our aim as an institution working on NCDs in Zimbabwe to advocate for an anti-smoking culture by promoting smoke-free environments in our homes, work places and restaurants.”
Tobacco causes heart disease, cancer and diabetes

Tobacco use is one of the most important risk factors in the development of cardiovascular diseases. Statistics show that smoking increases the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and impotence by 100% and increases the risk of death from undiagnosed coronary heart disease by 300%.
Tobacco use is the single greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality worldwide, causing an estimated 22% of cancer deaths per year according to the WHO.

Tobacco smoking causes many types of cancer, including cancers of the lung, oesophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix. About 70% of the lung cancer burden can be attributed to smoking alone.

Second-hand smoke has been proven to cause lung cancer in non-smoking adults as well. Smoking is also a leading cause of allergies, asthma and other respiratory related conditions.

Cigarette smoke contains over 4 000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing compounds and 400 other toxins. The toxins include, but are not limited to nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic and DDT.

Diabetics that smoke have twice the risk of premature death. The risk of complications associated with tobacco use and diabetes in combination are nearly 14 times higher than the risk of either smoking or diabetes alone according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
Benefits of quitting smoking

There are immediate and long-term health benefits of quitting smoking according to the WHO. Within 20 minutes one’s heart rate and blood pressure drops. The carbon monoxide level in one’s blood stream drops to normal within 12 hours. Lung function improves and circulation increases within weeks of quitting.
Quitting smoking for a year reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 50% in comparison to a smoker. One’s risk of stroke is reduced to that of a non-smoker five to 15 years after quitting.

The risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker after 10 years. Cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decreases as well. Quitting for 15 years reduces the risk of coronary heart disease to that of a non-smoker.

Studies show that few people know and understand the specific health risks associated with tobacco use. Most smokers who are aware of the dangers of tobacco want to quit, and others just don’t care.

For additional information, please visit the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe’s website: www.cancerzimbabwe.org

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