Every year on May 31st, the World Health Organization (WHO) sponsors World No Tobacco Day. The purpose is to spread awareness about the dangers of tobacco. Tobacco is the largest preventable cause of death in the United States. Around the world it is the cause of death for almost 7 million people. Cancer, heart disease, stroke, COPD, and lung disease are just a few health conditions that can be a result of tobacco use. Read the following facts to get an idea of how serious tobacco use is.
- In the United States, 480,000 deaths per year are caused by smoking. 41,000 of those deaths are victims of secondhand smoke.
- In the world, 890,000 of the 7 million deaths per year caused my tobacco are victims of second hand smoke.
- Smokers die about 10 years earlier than those who do not smoke.
- At the current smoking rate for American’s younger than 18, one in thirteen are expected to die prematurely.
Preventing tobacco use in middle school and high school students is an important part of stopping tobacco use. They are more at risk for nicotine addiction and are more likely to smoke into adulthood. Cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookahs, and electronic cigarettes are just a few of the tobacco products common in this generation.
What is happening to reduce the harmful effects of tobacco? Ideally, everyone who uses tobacco would quit, but that is a tedious process. One thing that has taken a step toward ending tobacco use is taxes. Higher taxes are used to discourage smokers from buying tobacco as many tobacco users are in low-income communities. Another tactic is the use of anti-smoking commercials. Have you ever seen those commercials where individuals with a stoma are interviewed? How about the ones where tobacco users have to pay for their tobacco products with some of their skin? There are many more, but the intent of these commercials is to encourage people to say no to tobacco. Laws are another tactic used to avoid smoking in public places. These laws are used to prevent harmful effects of secondhand smoking unto those who choose not to smoke.
Do you or someone you know use tobacco? Become educated about all of the health risks associated with tobacco whether you do or do not use it. There are places to go for help to quit smoking. Becoming educated about all of the benefits from quitting tobacco will amaze you. Our bodies start to heal almost immediately after quitting. Tobacco affects everyone and the best way to prevent those affects is to eliminate tobacco use all together. The benefits of quitting can begin to happen in as little as 20 minutes and continue throughout life. Encourage your friends and family to be tobacco free!