By Bankole Oluwafemi
Tobacco kills. Pure and simple. Yet many people choose to overlook that fact, choosing to watch their own lifespans float up in smoke, with every puff. But the numbers do not lie. And they aren’t pretty. Here are some of the hard facts about the effects of tobacco, worldwide. The bad, the bad and the ugly, if you will.
1. There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful, and more than 50 are known to cause cancer.
2. Tobacco is a slow, but more often that not, sure killer – Most of tobacco’s damage to health does not become evident until years or even decades after the onset of use.
3. Tobacco kills up to half of its users. That’s right. If there’s two of you smoking, it will kill one of you at some point. The only question is which one of you?
4. Tobacco is the world’s leading preventable cause of death, claiming the lives of 6 million people each year.
5. When put in context, approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death globally. Yet it is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide.
6. Tobacco kills people who don’t even smoke! More than 600,000 who die annually from tobacco related diseases are nonsmokers exposed to second-hand smoke.
7. Tobacco doesn’t spare children. Almost half of children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke in public places. Over 40% of children have at least one smoking parent. In 2004, children accounted for 28% of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke.
8. Nearly 80% of the world’s one billion smokers live in low and middle-income countries. Over 80% of tobacco deaths will occur in the developing world
9. Tobacco kills many people at the height of their productivity, depriving families of breadwinners and nations of a healthy workforce.
10. Tobacco caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century. If current trends continue, it may cause about one billion deaths in the 21st century.
If tobacco is so bad, then why do so many people still smoke?
The global tobacco industry goes to great lengths and considerable expense to promote their product, using a combination of low prices and aggressive marketing to desensitise people to the dangers inherent in tobacco use. Again, most people know that tobacco is bad for them. But since the habit is highly addictive, they find a way to tuck their guilty feelings it into the dark recesses of their minds. However, a reality check once in a while is might just be what some people need to be set straight. In a video created by Ogilvy Asia for the Thai Health Promotion Board, random smokers on the street who were approached by children asking for a light were shown to be well aware of the effects of smoking. In each instance, the adult did not fail to try to dissuade the kid from smoking.
It is an interesting and often effective way to communicate an important message. Would you give a cigarette to a kid? If you won’t, you know you shouldn’t be smoking yourself. You’ve seen the numbers. You know the facts. By now, you should know to keep calm and don’t smoke. Tobacco effects data and statistics via the World Health Organisation.