Monday, September 11, 2017

Gov’t must act on this ‘cigarette-dilemma’

Dr Syriacus Buguzi

Dr Syriacus Buguzi 

By Dr Syriacus Buguzi

Experience shows that the youth usually dominate playing fields; whether in football or any other outdoor games. Games are refreshing and healthy.

However, there comes a time when the same youth are lured into believing that there is something more refreshing than the games and physical exercises—and that’s cigarette smoking.

They end up in a dilemma, entrapped into the belief that smoking cigarettes is more refreshing. Quite often, they are the soft target of companies that promote the cigarettes.

You will hear the young people say, “Smoking relieves a feeling of stress.” However, if they knew the chilling statistics that cigarette smoking comes with, none of them would dare take up the habit.

Roughly 11 percent of young people aged 13 to 15 around the world use tobacco products like cigarettes and cigars, according to a 2015 report by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report was a result of a global survey of students.

Now, here is the bad news: There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer, according to The World Health Organization (WHO).

Yet, the CDC says smokers are more likely to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer; than nonsmokers.

CDC says smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times, stroke by 2 to 4 times. It shows men increase risk of developing lung cancer by 25 times. For women, women the risk of developing lung cancer increases by 25.7 times.

This situation slows down development because smoking diminished overall health, increased absenteeism from work, and increased health care utilization and cost.

In Tanzania, where the youth form over 60 percent of the population and constitute the country’s major workforce, you would have expected swift action. But, much is left to be desired. We now need stricter laws that would curb smoking cigarettes and control tobacco business.

Actually, more than half of the world’s population lives in the 39 countries that have aired at least 1 strong anti-tobacco mass media campaign within the last 2 years, WHO says.

Only 42 countries, representing 19 per cent of the world’s population meet the best practice for pictorial warnings against cigarettes. Most of these are low- or middle-income countries.

I really believe it’s high time the Tanzanian government looked at this data keenly and solve this problem.