Health experts have again emphasized on the dangers of smoking, as the world marks the 2021 World No Tobacco Day, which takes place on May 31st every year.
At a gathering in Yenagoa the Bayelsa State capital, the experts highlighted the theme for this year “Commit to Quit”, which seeks to encourage smokers to quit tobacco which is the cause of several types of diseases, including lung cancer.
The Vice Chancellor of the Bayelsa Medical University (BMU), Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, said the event was an opportunity to share and update knowledge on tobacco use and ensure the creation of a safe environment for all.
While welcoming participants, he said everyone is affected by tobacco whether they smoke or not which buttresses the importance of the event as it impacts on the health of all.
The State Programme Manager World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Edmund Egbe in a goodwill message noted that around 1.2 million non smokers die yearly from exposure to tobacco smoke.
He said the WHO is supporting countries to scale up programmes to help people quit tobacco use, especially at the primary health care and community levels under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Dr. Egbe said this includes programmes in school, universities, health and sports facilities among others, to diagnose tobacco dependence and help people quit.
Giving the first Lecture on “Tobacco: it’s Effects On Second Hand Smokers”, Dr. Preye Ogbe said, second hand smoke refers to the combination of main stream and side stream smoke released by smokers into the environment which is also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS).
He noted that over 70% of children across the world are exposed to second hand smoke which leads to high mortality rates, therefore he called on everyone to protect children and pregnant women from such smoke.
According to him, over 50% of cancer causing chemicals can be transmitted to a non smoker which exposes them to lung disease, heart diseases, throat cancer, liver and kidney failure among others.
Barrister Igbomgbo Nelson in the second lecture on “Tobacco Control Policies in Nigeria” said policies of the Federal Government have been put in place to restrict smoking in public areas.
He stated that the Tobacco Control Act of 2015 ensures this, as well as the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) who have arrested, convicted and taken a large number of defaulters to prison.
Barrister Nelson added that under this act, all indoor workplaces, public places, public transport, primary and secondary schools, sports facilities, restaurants and others are smoking restricted area.
He advised people to report anyone who flouts these restrictions to the NDLEA for proper investigation and prosecution, saying everyone must take personal responsibility to enforce the law.
Highlight of the event which was organized by the state Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), was a playlet advocating for a tobacco free society.
The World No Tobacco Day was created by the Member States of WHO in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.