Smoking costs global economy $1trillion annually

Smoking costs global economy $1trillion annually“I became addicted to smoking, right after secondary school,” he said lightening up a stick from his second pack of the day.

The sun had just begun to set atop a feverish sky.

“And even then, I knew those who started much earlier,” he said. In Nigeria thousands got introduced to smoking in their teenage years, with several reports stating that many took their first stick of cigarette before leaving for the university.

Gbadomosi said he was introduced to smoking when he joined the commercial bus operators in Lagos where smoking and drinking is not only a lifestyle choice, but seems like tools of the trade.

“It was a social thing, taking a break with a friend and having a smoke was cool. I continued smoking, and then in my mid-20s, life got rough.”

“In a period of 6 months, my parents died and I self-medicated with alcohol and habitual smoking.

“I smoked in the morning before breakfast, after meals, and when I felt stressed after a hard day’s job.

Gbadamosi tried to give up smoking for a few months when he came down with intense coughing fits that produced dark sputum.

Doctors advised him me to stop but like millions addicted to tobacco, many cannot help themselves.

Like Gbadamosi, millions of Nigerians are addicted to tobacco a trend the government is waking up to its devastating consequences.

A 2013 Nigerian Bureau of Statistics survey on global adult tobacco use indicated that 4.5 million adult Nigerians are tobacco addicts.

The World Health Organisation says globally, there are 1.1 billion tobacco smokers aged 15 or older, with around 80 per cent living in low- and middle-income countries. Approximately 226 million smokers live in poverty.

In December 2016, Kemi Adeosun, Nigeria’s finance minister in a circular to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) hiked import duty on tobacco from 20 percent to 60 percent.

Some say it is not enough.

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) wants the federal government to immediately impose a minimum of 150 percent special levies on all tobacco products.

It said the objectives are to raise revenue, reduce the consumption of the product so as to lessen its health impacts on the society.

Doyin Odubanjo a public health excerpt, urge the government to look into other ways of imposing special levies, higher duties on all tobacco products.

“It is commendable that the government is listing tobacco among luxury goods deserving higher duties, these measures will reduce consumption of tobacco products.”

Odubanjo also enjoined the government to take action to curb increased capacity in local cigarette manufacturing.

“If government should leave out locally produced tobacco from the high levies is an indication of disconnect between the ministry of finance and health and it could be counter-productive as other tobacco companies would start considering building new factories in Nigeria to produce their toxic product and worsen the current health situation in Nigerians.”

Against this backdrop, a new report released by the World Health Organisation and the National Cancer Institute of the United States of America says loss of productivity and healthcare cost arising from abusing tobacco is US$1 trillion annually.

Citing figures published by The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control, the report also says that around 6 million people die annually as a result of tobacco use, with most living in developing countries.

It called for the implementation of policies to control tobacco use including tobacco tax and price increases which it says can generate significant government revenues for health and development work.

The report states that such measures can reduce tobacco use and protect people’s health from the world’s leading killers, such as cancers and heart disease.

“The economic impact of tobacco on countries, and the general public, is huge, as this new report shows,” says Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s assistant director-general for Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) and mental health.

He further said, “The tobacco industry produces and markets products that kill millions of people prematurely, rob households of finances that could have been used for food and education, and impose immense healthcare costs on families, communities and countries.”

Douglas Bettcher, WHO Director for the Prevention of NCDs, says the new report gives governments a powerful tool to combat tobacco industry claims that controls on tobacco products adversely impact economies.

“This report shows how lives can be saved and economies can prosper when governments implement cost-effective, proven measures, like significantly increasing taxes and prices on tobacco products, and banning tobacco marketing and smoking in public,” he adds.

Tobacco control is a key component of WHO’s global response to the epidemic of NCDs, primarily cardiovascular disease, cancers, chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and diabetes.

NCDs account for the deaths of around 16 million people prematurely (before their 70th birthdays) every year. WHO says reducing tobacco use plays a major role in global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing premature deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030.

Lanre Yusuf, a medical practitioner based in Lagos told BD Sunday that the nicotine content of cigarettes makes it difficult for addicts to quit.

Each year, quitting smoking tops the resolution of a lot of people who smoke but before the first three months studies show they fall back to the habit.

“There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Even relatively small amounts damage your blood vessels and make your blood more likely to clot. It causes heart attacks, strokes, and even sudden deaths,” said Yusuf.

Yusuf also warned that smoking has serious consequences for pregnant women. He said that pregnant women who smoke risk harming the developing brains of unborn babies and could affect the memory and attention of the children when they grow up.

Experts say smoking is responsible for 30%-45% of deaths due to heart disease. Smoking is linked to most cancers. It is responsible for 85-90% of lung cancer cases, responsible for 70-80% of esophageal cancer cases, responsible for half the cases of bladder cancer and larynx/pharynx cancer cases.

It is also responsible for about 30% of kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervix cancer, stomach, colon and rectum cancer cases.

Manufacturers are also increasing nicotine content to ramp up sales. Nicotine is very addictive and efforts to quit leads to withdrawal systems that sets in bouts of depression. Many have to rely on professional help to quit the habit. But the concerns go beyond nicotine alone.

Some brands contain chemicals including formaldehyde often used in building materials and another ingredient used in antifreeze that can cause cancer.
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