World No Tobacco Day

Today is World No Tobacco Day. This yearly celebration informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what the World Health Organization or WHO is doing to fight against the use of tobacco, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations. This day was created in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. The day is further intended to draw attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and to negative health effects, which currently lead to more than 8 million deaths each year worldwide, including the 1.2 million that are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

The theme for 2021 is a year-long global campaign initiated by the WHO for the World No Tobacco Day 2021 with the theme of Commit to Quit. This campaign aims to support 100 million people worldwide in their attempt to give up tobacco through various initiatives and digital solutions and will help create healthier environments that are conducive to quitting tobacco by advocating for strong tobacco cessation policies, by promoting increased access to cessation services, by raising awareness of tobacco industry tactics and by empowering tobacco users to make successful attempts to quit through quit & win initiatives.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to millions of tobacco users wanting to quit. However, quitting tobacco is challenging, especially with the added social and economic stresses brought about by the pandemic. Worldwide, around 780 million people say they want to quit, but only 30% of them have access to the tools that can help them to overcome both physical and mental addictions to tobacco. And in today’s COVID world, smokers have a greater risk of developing a severe case and dying from COVID-19. Tobacco affects your looks almost immediately and threatens the health of not just the smoker, but their family and friends. Smoking or using e-cigarettes around children compromises their health and safety and tobacco and its allied products are expensive, money that can be used for other important things. For both men and women, smoking reduces fertility and purchasing tobacco, one is financially supporting an industry that exploits farmers and children and pedals sickness and death. In terms of overall health, smokers are more likely to lose their vision and hearing and tobacco harms almost every organ of the body

Quitting tobacco has major and immediate health benefits. There are immediate and long-term health benefits to quitting tobacco. After just 20 minutes of quitting smoking, the heart rate drops. Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal. Within 2–12 weeks, the circulation improves and lung function increases. Within 1–9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Within 5–15 years, the stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker. Within 10 years, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker. Within 15 years, the risk of heart disease is that of a non-smoker. Quitting smoking decreases the excess risk of many diseases related to second-hand smoke in children, such as respiratory diseases like asthma and ear infections. Quitting smoking also reduces the chances of impotence, having difficulty getting pregnant, having premature births, babies with low birth weights and miscarriage.

So please, if you are a smoker, or you know someone who smokes or uses tobacco products, then seriously think of quitting or helping them quit. There are many resources available, with the WHO having a Quitting Toolkit, which also has digital support.

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