Thursday, 4 June 2015

[Today] Youth must know link between smoking, disease

World No Tobacco Day came and went on May 31. It would be tragic if its message is summarily dismissed or forgotten as we carry on with daily life, as the statistics tell an incriminating story.
Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the world, with an estimated 5.4 million lives lost yearly. In the last century, tobacco use led to 100 million deaths; this century, one billion people will die.
Singapore’s National Health Surveillance Survey 2013 showed that the rate of adult smoking prevalence stabilised at 13.3 per cent from 13.6 per cent in 2007. Initiatives to prevent youth initiation resulted in a notable decrease in smoking prevalence in the 18-to-29 age group: From 17.2 per cent in 2007 to 12.7 per cent in 2013.
Past studies such as the National Health Survey 2010 have established that 75 per cent of smokers start before their 21st birthday. Besides initiation in schools, National Service is often cited as a period when youths pick up the habit.
To grow their markets, manufacturers must find new customers for the addiction they are peddling. To keep the business lucrative, consumers who die or quit must be replaced.
Of the more than 5,000 chemical components in cigarette smoke, hundreds are harmful to us. Arsenic has been linked with cancer of the bladder, liver, lung and skin. Benzene can cause leukaemia. Butadiene may cause blood cancer. Cadmium is linked with kidney and prostate cancer.
Chromium VI is associated with nose cancer and nasal sinuses. Formaldehyde causes leukaemia and cancer in respiratory tissues. Polonium-210 can cause cancer in animals. Tar leaves a brown residue on our lungs.
Also, carbon monoxide is transferred to our bloodstream after inhalation. Nicotine may raise blood pressure and heart rate, and narrow the arteries. Tobacco consumption can also increase our risk of cancer of the throat, mouth, cervix and pancreas.
As kicking this addictive habit is an onerous task, we must discourage initiation of our young from the upper primary to lower secondary levels through anti-smoking programmes.
School programmes from the upper secondary to tertiary level can include cessation programmes to assist smokers in quitting. Pupils must be taught about the relationship between smoking and heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other chronic lung diseases.
World No Tobacco Day may be behind us for another year, but its message must be embedded in our young for them to repel peer pressure as well as the tobacco industry’s aggressive strategies. For those who have started smoking, there are a myriad of reasons to quit.