Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
World Health Organisation (WHO), has raised the alarm that more Nigerians, including children, could face untimely death due to direct or indirect use or exposure to tobacco.
The UN health agency confirmed that tobacco consumption is the primary cause of lung cancer, which is responsible for more than two third of lung cancer deaths.
WHO Regional Director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, who disclosed the information at a press conference to mark the 2019 World No Tobacco Day, in Abuja, with the theme “Tobacco and lung health,” confirmed that 90 percent of persons with lung cancer stand less chance of survival.
He explained that World No Tobacco Day was set aside by UN to sensitise global audience and raise awareness on the negative effect of tobacco consumption on adults, and children who are exposed to tobacco.
Moeti who spoke through the acting Officer in Charge of Nigeria, Dr. Clement Peter, confirmed that the outcome of a research it conducted in 2018 revealed that over 4.7 million Nigerians use tobacco, and 16, 000 die from its usage annually.
He maintained that tobacco smoke is dangerous. “It contains more than 7, 000 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Tobacco affects the lungs in multiple ways. Smoking is responsible for more than two thirds of lung cancer deaths.
“In Africa, a total of 39, 353 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in 2018, and no fewer than 37, 748 deaths were recorded. However, people that quit smoking reduce their risk of lung cancer by 50 percent after 10 years.”
He said that children are also at great risk of tobacco-related infections when they are exposed to tobacco smoke.
He said: “It reduces lung growth and function in children. Children exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke risk pneumonia, bronchitis and lower respiratory infections.
“Globally, no fewer than 165, 000 children die before the age of five years because of lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand tobacco smoke.”
He appealed to the Federal governments to adopt and enforce tobacco-control policies that would reduce the demand for tobacco, promote cessation and adequately treat tobacco.