I could still hear the sound of his cigar. He said it helped him relax, that it took away the cold. Anytime he came home from trying his best during the day, he took out a stick and let it all out through the puff; the frustration, the bitterness, the feeling of “never-good-enough’, the pain, the suffering, the guilt that he couldn’t give us what we were meant to have. Mother always reprimanded him, “Baa Ajoke, this isn’t good for you o”. “Woman, let me be….kpoho kpoho“, he coughed so loudly as he replied, making the trees shiver in fear thereby sending the birds into the skies.
“Miss Ajoke Olatunji, you can go in now’, the nurse said bringing me back to reality. “Please try not to get him all worked up, he needs adequate rest. It’s well” She placed her palm on my shoulders and left head bowed. My knees wobbled and my feet couldn’t find the floor as the thought of seeing him crossed my mind. Maami said he was in a deplorable state. Atinuke couldn’t even come to see him and Jide was fighting back the tears. ‘You know you’ve always been the one closet to him, you should go see Baami” Jide said. As I walked into my father’s room on the 15th of August, 2006 I knew my life would not remain the same again! And as I walked out of the hospital that day, I made a decision that I would give in my best efforts to stop tobacco from taking people’s breath away because it took Baami’s!
You think it’s only love that can take one’s breathe away? Hold up, you’re so wrong! Tobacco too can?
Do you know that some countries depend upon tobacco production as a major source of income? I just found out thanks to WHO which is why among their requests to the Director- General during their 42nd World Health Assembly were, (1) to review the impact of tobacco production on the economy, environment and health of the populations in developing countries which depend upon tobacco production as a major source of income, and to report on this issue to the Forty-third World Health Assembly;
(2) to collaborate actively with FAO and other relevant United Nations agencies with a view to developing agricultural projects that demonstrate how crop substitution programmes can be implemented in countries whose economies depend heavily upon tobacco production and to encouraging such countries to implement these programmes.
Now what is tobacco and how can it literally take one’s breathe away?
“Tobacco is a product prepared from the leaves of the tobacco plant by curing them. The plant is part of the genus Nicotiana and of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. There are more than 70 species of tobacco with N. tabacum being the chief commercial crop.
Wikipedia elaborates further: “Tobacco contains the alkaloid nicotine, which is a stimulant, and harmala alkaloids. Dried tobacco leaves are mainly used for smoking in cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and flavored shisha tobacco. They can also be consumed as snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco and snus. Tobacco use is a risk factor for many diseases; especially those affecting the heart, liver, and lungs, as well as many cancers. In 2008, the World Health Organization named tobacco as the world’s single greatest preventable cause of death. Tobacco smoke contains more than fifty chemicals that cause cancer. Tobacco also contains nicotine, which is a highly addictive psychoactive drug. When tobacco is smoked, nicotine causes physical and psychological dependency. Cigarettes sold in underdeveloped countries tend to have higher tar content, and are less likely to be filtered, potentially increasing vulnerability to tobacco smoking related disease in these regions.”
Tobacco smoking is responsible for a heap of other awful diseases and health consequences such as
- Stress. As stressful as the climate is becoming, smoking can also cause stress. Recent studies have shown a positive relationship between psychological distress and salivary cotinine levels in smoking and non-smoking adults, indicating that both firsthand and secondhand smoke exposure may lead to higher levels of mental stress.
- Blindness. Lung.org revealed that smoking increases one’s risk of age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults over the age of 65. Do you wanna go blind? Why smoke?
- Oral Disease. The National Institutes of Health, through the National Cancer Institute, determined in 1998 that “cigar smoking causes a variety of cancers including cancers of the oral cavity (lip, tongue, mouth, throat), esophagus, larynx, and lung. Smoking contributes to periodontis—a gum infection that destroys the bone that supports the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.
- Cardiovascular Disease. Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke exerts negative effects by reducing the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Several ingredients of tobacco lead to the narrowing of blood vessels, increasing the likelihood of a blockage, and thus a heart attack or stroke. Wiki adds that according to a study by an international team of researchers, people under 40 are five times more likely to have a heart attack if they smoke.
- Type 2 Diabetes. Smoking contributes to type 2 diabetes and increases the risk of complications from the disease— including poor blood flow to the legs and feet which can lead to infection and result in the need to amputate a limb.
- Impotence and Female Infertility. Male smokers have an 85% chance of being impotent (i.e difficulty in achieving & maintaining penile erection) because smoking promotes arterial narrowing and damages cells lining the inside of the arteries thus leading to reduce penile blood flow. Smoking also shows harmful signs to the ovaries, potentially causing female infertility and miscarriages from pregnant users with damage dependent upon the amount and length of time a woman smokes. Nicotine and other harmful chemicals in cigarettes interfere with the body’s ability to create estrogen, a hormone that regulates folliculogenesis and ovulation. It slightly increases the risk of neural tube defects. Smoking reduces the chances of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) producing a live birth by 34% and increases the risk of an IVF pregnancy miscarrying by 30%.
- Among others (Influenza, Renal damage, infections, etc)
World Health Organization concerned at the fact that, while tobacco consumption is decreasing in developed countries as a result of effective health promotion supported by appropriate legislation and regulations, the developing countries are registering increases in tobacco consumption; and during it’s 42nd World Health Assembly, recalled resolution WHA39.14 and resolution WHA41.25 requesting the Director-General to draw up a plan of action on tobacco or health for submission through the Programme Committee to the eighty-third session of the Executive Board. During this Assembly, they also recognized that the use of tobacco is responsible worldwide for more than two million premature deaths annually thereby recalling that active efforts are needed to resolve the economic issues involved in reducing tobacco production. A resolution was also passed that day for the yearly celebration of “World No Tobacco Day” on the 31st of May.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and global partners celebrate “World No Tobacco Day (WNTD)” today. This annual campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure (this occurs when tobacco smoke enters an environment, causing its inhalation by people within that environment), and to discourage the use of tobacco in any form. 2019’s focus is on “Tobacco and Lung Health.” The campaign will increase awareness on:
- the negative impact that tobacco has on people’s lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease, tuberculosis, air pollution
- the fundamental role lungs play for the health and well-being of all people.
The campaign also serves as a call to action, advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control and sensitizing parents and other members of the community on preventive measures to promote their own health, and that of their children, by protecting them from the harms caused by tobacco.
Fulfilling your dreams in life requires a healthy body and when your lungs are negatively affected there’s not much you can do. The lungs play a crucial role in the health and well-being of all people, so don’t encourage smoking and don’t force someone into it. Avoid smoking areas and reduce tobacco production. Today, I stand with the United Nations, WHO and it’s global partners to advocate for strong, healthy lungs. There are a thousand and one beautiful moments that are still yet to come that will definitely take your breath away, but definitely #NeverTobacco
Let’s stay happy and enjoy the best in life! Make a commitment, join the campaign….. #NeverTobacco, NEVER!!!