31 May 2013

'World No Tobacco Day': Ban Tobacco Advertising, Says WHO

'World No Tobacco Day'

Tobacco presently kills nearly six million people every year and the WHO estimated that the weed will kill more than eight million by 2030. World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), which is observed on May 31 is meant to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption across the globe.

The World Health Organization also called on nations to ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship to help reduce the number of tobacco users and keep young people from becoming addicted.

While, one study revealed that chewing tobacco poses a bigger threat than smoking, another study has revealed that an estimated 10 percent of tobacco-related deaths are caused by passive smoking. As per the WHO every year 6 lakh out of 60 lakh deaths due to tobacco are because of second-hand smoke.

Dr Rama Kant, WHO Director-General's Awardee and a senior surgeon said, "In India, 10 lakh people die every year due to tobacco," reported Shailvee Sharda for TNN. As per the global trend, about a lakh people in India may be dying from breathing second-hand smoke.

He added that "Second-hand smoke is the smoke that fills restaurants, offices or other enclosed spaces when people burn tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, 'bidis' and water pipes. 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."

Kant said that "In adults, second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In infants, it causes sudden death. In pregnant women, it causes low birth weight. Almost half of children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke in public places. Over 40 percent of children have at least one smoking parent. In 2004 WHO data, children accounted for 28 percent of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke," as reported by TNN.

Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO's Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases Department, said most tobacco users start their deadly drug dependence before the age of 20.

"Banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is one of the best ways to protect young people from starting smoking as well as reducing tobacco consumption across the entire population," Xinhua quoted Bettcher as saying in a statement.

Research shows that about one-third of youth experiment with tobacco as a result of exposure to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Worldwide, 78 percent of young people aged 13 to 15 have reported regular exposure to some form of tobacco advertising, according to the WHO.

Bettcher said targeting "women and children in developing countries" was the "last frontier" of the tobacco industry.

He warned that the tobacco industry has been finding new tactics to target potential smokers, including handing out free cigarettes, using online and new media, and placement of tobacco products and brands in films and television.

"That is why the ban has to be complete in order to be fully effective," he said.

The WHO's report on the global tobacco epidemic in 2011 showed that only 19 countries have reached the highest level of achievement in banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, while more than one third of countries have minimal or no restrictions at all.

According to the "2012 Global Progress Report on Implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)", 83 countries introduced a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

(With IANS inputs)