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World No Tobacco Day

Every year, on 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) and global partners celebrate World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The annual campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, and to discourage the use of tobacco in any form.

Theme for 2021

The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2021 is on "Commit to quit."

Tobacco causes 8 million deaths every year. When evidence was released this year that smokers were more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19 compared to non-smokers, it triggered millions of smokers to want to quit tobacco. Quitting can be challenging, especially with the added social and economic stress that have come as a result of the pandemic, but there are a lot of reasons to quit.

The benefits of quitting tobacco are almost immediate. After just 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your heart rate drops. Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Within 2-12 weeks, your circulation improves and lung function increases. Within 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Within 5-15 years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker. Within 10 years, your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker. Within 15 years, your risk of heart disease is that of a non-smoker. If that’s not enough here are a few more reasons!

Tobacco - a killer of lung health

Tobacco is deadly in any form and threatens the lung health of everyone exposed to it. Tobacco kills one person every 4 seconds.

Newer tobacco products contain chemicals similar to those in traditional tobacco products and are likewise harmful to health. Respiratory diseases are among the leading causes of death globally, and tobacco is a major risk factor. The millions of deaths caused by tobacco-related respiratory disease are distressing, but even more distressing is the tremendous suffering caused by these illnesses, the debilitating effects of which affect the quality of life of people of all ages, in all regions of the globe.

Tobacco exposure is a threat to lung health for everyone - Not just smokers

Second-hand smoke is smoke emitted from the burning end of a cigarette or from other smoked tobacco products, usually in combination with smoke exhaled by the smoker. Tobacco smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke are major risk factors for lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tuberculosis (TB) and asthma.

With just a single breath, the hundreds of toxins in tobacco smoke begin damaging the lungs

When tobacco smoke is inhaled, the structures that sweep mucus and dirt out of your airways are paralysed, allowing the poisonous substances in tobacco smoke to make their way into the lungs more easily.

Tobacco smoking more than doubles the risk of transforming TB from a latent state to the active disease

Smoking substantially increases the risk of TB and death from TB. More than 20% of global TB incidence may be attributable to tobacco. Exposure to second-hand smoke also increases the risk of progression from latent TB infection to active disease. If the disease is not treated appropriately, people with TB can die from respiratory failure. Tuberculosis patients are more likely to achieve better treatment outcomes by quitting tobacco use.

Tobacco smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer.

Smokers are up to 22 times more likely to develop lung cancer in their lifetime, compared with non-smokers. Non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke at home or in the workplace have a 30% higher risk of developing lung cancer. After 10 years free of tobacco, the risk of lung cancer is reduced to about half that of a smoker.

School-aged children of smokers are at risk of developing Asthma and/or their asthma getting worse.

Asthma is a chronic disease of the air passages to the lungs, which causes inflammation and recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing. WHO estimates that 235 million people currently suffer from asthma. Inhaling tobacco smoke is one of the major triggers for asthma to develop and/or worsen. In people living with asthma, tobacco smoking further restricts activity, contributes to work disability and increases the risk of severe asthma requiring emergency care. Around one in nine asthma deaths can be attributed to tobacco smoking. Patients with asthma can control their asthma more effectively if they quit tobacco.

One in five smokers will develop Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in their lifetime, and almost half of COPD deaths are attributable to smoking.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)isa lung disease that causes episodes of breathlessness, coughing and mucus production. These episodes are seriously disabling; they can last from several days to several months, and sometimes result in death. In 2016, it was estimated that over 251 million people live with COPD. Tobacco smoking is the most important risk factor for COPD, causing swelling and rupturing of the air sacs in the lungs, which reduces the lung’s capacity to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. It also causes the build-up of purulent mucus in the lungs, resulting in a painful cough and agonizing breathing difficulties.

Call to action

  • Lung health is not achieved merely through the absence of disease, and tobacco smoke has major implications for the lung health of smokers and non-smokers globally.
  • In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of a one-third reduction in Non Communicable Diseases premature mortality by 2030, tobacco control must be a priority for governments and communities worldwide. Currently, the world is not on track to meeting this target.
  • Countries should respond to the tobacco epidemic through full implementation of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and by adopting measures which involves developing, implementing, and enforcing the most effective tobacco control policies aimed at reducing the demand for tobacco.
  • Parents and other members of the community should also take measures to promote their own health, and that of their children, by protecting them from the harms caused by tobacco.

Source : WHO

Tobacco cessation programme of India

Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has launched a toll-free national tobacco Quitline (1800112356) and mCessation services (give a missed call from your mobile to 011 22901701 to receive text-messages towards successful quitting of tobacco). This initiative aims to support tobacco users of all categories who want to quit tobacco use towards successful quitting through constant text messaging on mobile phones.

Source : National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP)



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