Quitting tobacco as a new year resolution.
|Not many are lucky to witness a new year. Each breath we breathe is blessed and we praise God for this very breath and this ‘another ‘ year in our lives. Days before a new year, almost always, we go back to the good, old year, listing what was and what wasn’t. And to the new resolutions we always promised ourselves, most if not all of which, we always say, will make us better persons.
I would like to start the new year with a piece of warning to all and a cautious advice to the concerned: nicotine,the global agent of death. I say cautious because I can understand how much misunderstood it can be.
Tobacco deaths rarely make the headlines. Tobacco is the only legally available consumer product which kills people when it is used entirely as intended. Record shows it kills a third to half of all people who use it, 15 years prematurely on an average. But before a person fully realizes the impact of its effect on his bodily systems, it is somehow late for the users to stop it. The addictive substance, nicotine, has taken control, and like air or water, it too,has become a source of life. This source of life can become a risk factor or kill in so many ways that very life: lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory problems. It can also worsen diabetes, cataracts, psoriasis, osteoporosis, stomach ulcers, wrinkles, hearing loss, etc. It can deform sperm, too. It can also cause impotence. There maybe more. Its use has become a major global health concern.
The menace is growing fast .For the tobacco epidemic, the vector is not a virus or other microorganism- it is the tobacco industry and its business strategy. The economies of the developing and third world countries represent vast new market places for the tobacco industry. In their greed, it fails to consider the repercussions their well-glorified advertising has on this very vulnerable group, the teenagers. Targeting and addicting the youth is its only hope for the future, for they become the replacement smokers to take the place of those who quit or die. And because most women do not use tobacco, advertising and brands are specifically crafted and marketed to encourage women to smoke; making it look it’s the “in” thing. Although the industry claims it creates jobs and generates revenues for the country’s economy, its overriding contribution to any country is suffering, disease and death. Tobacco-related deaths results in lost economic opportunities because most of them occur during prime productive years.
To counteract this epidemic, governments must have the political will to adopt and enforce tobacco control measures like smoke-free environments, treatment of tobacco dependence, tobacco taxation, and health warnings on packages, bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Most importantly, tobacco awareness must be inculcated in every homes and schools.
For the smokers and tobacco-users, make “QUIT TOBACCO” one of your firm resolutions for the new year. Consult your therapist, ask for help. Do not hesitate. Let the adage “It’s never too late” to quit tobacco come true.