“Tobacco smokers are liable to die young.” This warning, universally advertised in the media, has not deterred smokers from roasting their own lungs in puffs of fun.
Aside the real chronic smokers, findings have revealed that inhaling directly from a smoker, also known as second-hand smoke, remains a silent killer resulting in 900,000 ignorant deaths globally, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Second-hand smoke, according to medical experts, could worsen asthma in both children and adults; lead to ear infections and brain tumour. Studies have also revealed that third-hand smoke could lead to low intelligent quotient (IQ) among children.
For instance, living in a house formerly occupied by a chain smoker is likely to expose children to strains of entrapped tobacco residues which could in turn lead to poor mental development in children. It was in this light that the Nigerian Tobacco Control Research Group (NTCRG), vowed to continually enlighten Nigerians on the health demerits of tobacco consumption.
Findings show that many youngsters who smoke do so after succumbing to peer pressure. Others take to smoking believing in the contaminated message that tobacco is a stress buster. NTCRG’s research conducted on tobacco consumption among the youths in six unnamed tertiary institutions in the South East made shocking discoveries.
It was gathered that smoking of cigarettes, shisha pots and e-cigarette vaporizer have become a norm among students all over the country. Worrisomely, tobacco smoking among adolescents seem to have grown exponentially in recent years as discovered by NTCRG.
Dr Akindele Adebiyi, national coordinator, NTCRG, listed the effects of consuming tobacco to include; mental illness, infertility among men, liver and heart diseases and other ailments. He blamed the school authorities for what he described as direct and indirect advertisement of cigarettes, shisha brands and other tobacco products within the campus.
He said such unsolicited advertisements usually lured students of higher institutions into excessive tobacco consumption: “We found out that the school authorities do not even put stringent laws on the use of tobacco.
“They just prohibit students from smoking on campus, which means that students are allowed to smoke outside the campus, in restaurants, beer parlours, bars and other hangout places within the school premises.
“Walking into some of these schools, it is easy to see cigarette packs and butts on campus. This indirectly encourages students who do not smoke to try it out once in a while. The direct promotion of tobacco contained merchandise and tobacco industry sponsored programmes, point of sale display of product and even discount and free samples of tobacco products should be discontinued.”
With representatives from the Ministry of Education in attendance, Adebiyi charged them to enforce strict laws with adequate punitive measures combat the abuse of tobacco in tertiary institutions.
Deputy Director, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Adoyi Ofikwu, vowed to do whatever it takes to protect students from their hazardous lifestyle: “At this point, it is safe to say that our children are their own worst enemies. But the ministry with the aid of the Federal Government promises to combate this deadly phenomenon.”