‘World No Tobacco Day’, play your role

TANZANIA: OVER the years, the World No Tobacco Day has become a global movement to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco and some deceptive practices of the tobacco industry.

In quick analysis, the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is a significant event observed annually on May 31 Established by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1987, this day aims to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocates for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

Witnessed this year, the theme ‘Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference’ is a precise thing worth promoting.

This is because it emphasises the urgent need to safeguard the youth from the manipulative tactics of the tobacco industry, which aims to create a new generation of smokers and nicotine users.

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Despite the progress made in reducing cigarette smoking, the industry continues to find ways to target youth with new products like e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches.

However, in quick analysis, tobacco use is one of the most common risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS)- a nationally representative household survey that collects data on adult tobacco use and key tobacco control measures stipulates that the World Health Organisation (WHO) country estimates of 2010, showed that NCDs accounted for 27 per cent of all deaths in Tanzania.

In 2008, it was estimated that in Tanzania, NCDs caused a total of 75.7 and 58.8 deaths per 1,000 populations, of which 42.8 per cent and 28.5 per cent were below age 60 years among males and females respectively.

And speaking to different medical experts, it emerges that smoking of tobacco can be harmful to various organs in your body and negatively impacts your overall health.

Others say it increases inflammation throughout the human body and also weakens the immune system, making more susceptible to infections.

For instance, Rachel Mwinuka a medical doctor from Buguruni Hospital said that tobacco use is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths and contributing to numerous health issues.

“Smoking is a wellestablished risk factor for several types of cancers, including bladder, lung, esophageal, pancreatic and stomach cancer, among others,” she pointed out.

Adding: “If you quit smoking, the risk of developing most of these cancers decreases over time (usually within 10 to 20 years).” She further noted that smoking tobacco can cause various oral health problems such as gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss. “

The chemicals in tobacco smoke can irritate the gums, leading to inflammation and infection, and they can also contribute to the development of oral cancer by damaging the cells in the mouth,” she said.

On his part, Collins Frank a medic from Mbezi Luis Dispensary explained that Tobacco use can have adverse effects on reproductive health in both men and women.

“In men, smoking can lead to erectile dysfunction and reduced sperm quality. In women, it can affect fertility, increase the risk of miscarriage, and harm foetal development during pregnancy, leading to complications such as low birth weight and premature birth,” he said.

Dr Frank further said that apart from that, smoking tobacco can lead to various respiratory problems such as chronic coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and increased susceptibility to respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis.

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This is primarily due to the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke irritating the respiratory tract and damaging the lungs.

Elaborating, the medics noted that avoiding tobacco use can be challenging, but there are several strategies that can help.

Jacob Tweve, another medic based in Kilimanjaro said if someone managed to replace Tobacco with healthier habits, it can help to reduce the excess usage of it.

“Find alternative activities to occupy your time and distract yourself from cravings. Exercise, hobbies, meditation, or spending time with loved ones can help reduce stress and improve mood without relying on tobacco,” he explained.

He also said consider using nicotine replacement products such as nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, or inhalers to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

“Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) can provide a safer alternative to smoking while gradually reducing nicotine dependence,” he explained.

Dr Tweve said quitting tobacco is a challenging process, and setbacks are common.

“Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up, instead, focus on the progress you have made and recommit to your goal of living tobacco-free. Stay positive, stay persistent and celebrate each milestone along the way,” he explained.

Lastly, as we celebrate world no tobacco day, when it comes to tobacco products, the best advice is straightforward do not use them.

Tobacco use, in any form, poses significant health risks and can lead to a wide range of serious medical conditions.

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