No Tobacco with World No Tobacco Day

No Tobacco with World No Tobacco Day

Johann Medina, Contributor

Health problems were always lurking throughout the world and time. Small and large diseases and conditions such as HIV, asthma, cancer, and recently COVID-19 have made their permanent mark on the world. We’ve made dates on our calendars to help spread awareness of these issues, which makes the fact that each month is its own awareness month for different types of cancer surprising to some.

Though one thing that has plagued us for quite a while has been smoking. Most people know smoking does affect and damage your health and overall lifestyle, and yet it’s still seen as normal throughout our world.

World No Tobacco Day, or WNTD for short, is observed on May 31st throughout the world to spread awareness about the dangers of tobacco and was created by members of the World Health Organization (WHO). However tobacco has been somewhat like a recurring enemy, it is very hard to quit and addiction in general has been a problem in our ages. What can we do to stop the spread of addiction? And does World No Tobacco Day play a role in this problem?

The WHO’s Effort

You’ve probably heard of the World Health Organization before, maybe during the pandemic. Despite playing an important role in the world right now, it has been creating dates before the pandemic to bring awareness to multiple diseases and conditions. Inducing World No Tobacco Day, which is just one out of multiple other campaigns to help spread awareness of the quiet killers in our world.

Each year the theme for WNTD has been different, such as in 2008, where the theme was “Tobacco-free youth”, where the WHO called for a ban of tobacco advertising and promotion. And in later years, “Commit to quit”, was the focus for 2021. The WHO encourages groups from around the world to hold events to celebrate World No Tobacco Day. In India, the government launched a hotline to help quit smoking as the country is one of the highest tobacco consumers in the world.

Pfizer, a well-known pharmaceutical company, has sponsored multiple World No Tobacco Day events in the United Arab Emirates during 2008 where the company was going to release Chantix, a chemical which is supposed to help people quit smoking by reducing the severity of the addiction and its withdrawal symptoms.

Of course, this is not faced without resistance. The “Americans for Freedom of Choice”, a group in Honolulu, Hawaii, created “World Defiance Day” against Hawaii’s ban on smoking inside restaurants and World No Tobacco Day. However, there hasn’t been any direct protest by smokers against WNTD. 

The tobacco industry itself has a different reaction. Though in general, World No Tobacco Day hasn’t had positive feedback from the industry, which was probably to be expected. However, the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement states that the tobacco industry funds initiatives that have resources to help people quit smoking.

A Refresher of the Dangers

As of our previous assemblies, it’s fair to say that smoking and vaping does not affect your life in a good way in the long term. It’s common knowledge that smoking and vaping damages lungs, but exactly how? And is there more?

Lung cancer is commonly linked with smoking. Many carcinogenic chemicals in tobacco go straight to the lungs to cause damage, and it’s not just cancer. Smoking, including vaping, causes inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue which can lead to permanent respiratory conditions such as emphysema, and bronchitis which can drastically affect your lifestyle.

You’ve probably seen many smokers coughing and wheezing. Coughing is one of the body’s ways to expel irritants and foreign objects from the throat to the mouth and nose. Wheezing occurs when respiratory airways become smaller or partially blocked making a distinct dry whistling noise when breathing, it usually occurs when sick or when the person has a respiratory condition such as asthma. If you see a smoker repeatedly coughing and wheezing, you can be assured that they’re respiratory system is suffering from the chemicals and effects of tobacco.

Nicotine just doesn’t affect the lungs, but also the heart and all other organs. Smoking increases blood pressure as carbon monoxide from the smoke limits the blood’s ability to transport oxygen, causing your heart to work harder. Smoking causes fatty plaque to build up in blood vessels and increases blood clots, which increases the chance of heart attacks and strokes, and thus can lead to death.

You may have seen smokers with a bad smile, their gums and teeth all unhealthy. Nicotine in tobacco decreases blood flow to the gums, which starts to affect your gums by slowly causing the cells to die because of the lack of oxygen and nutrients. This causes the gums to recede and also causes them to weaken their grip on teeth, leading to tooth loss. The effects of smoking causes discoloration and cavities on the teeth as well.

As said by many people, nicotine is an addictive chemical. The chemical controls your brain to keep inhaling the harmful chemicals, and so increases the risk of developing the previously mentioned symptoms. All of these effects look bad enough already, and there are even more horrible effects that smoking can cause to your body! However, even if you didn’t smoke, you could still be in danger.

Secondhand smoke could also expose you to the risks. Secondhand smoke is the inhalation of smoke from other cigarettes, even if you aren’t smoking yourself. The smoke from cigarettes can contain the chemicals that would cause the same effects on smokers. Say if you were in the same room with a person smoking, the smoke from the cigarette is bound to cause some minor symptoms to you. That’s why there’s separate smoking rooms in some places to prevent the risks of secondhand smoke from affecting the rest of the public. World No Tobacco Day could be a day to tell and help others quit smoking in and around your community to help decrease the risks of secondhand smoke to yourself and other non-smokers.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to know how smoking affects the body, and World No Tobacco Day can be an excellent day to inform other people about the dangers. The focus for 2022 is “Tobacco: Threat to our environment” as land is deforested for tobacco plantations, destroying ecosystems, emitting carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, and thus contributing to climate change.

What’s also especially worrying, and also what surprised me the most, is that cigarette butts are the most littered object on beaches, followed by food wrappers and plastics. Cigarettes are a fire hazard once lit, and carelessly dropping smoldering cigarettes will cause fires, and leftover cigarette butts are a big pollutant for animals in multiple environments.

Many advertisements are also alerting the public about how these cigarettes are polluting our environment more than we think. Such organizations like undo.org which have been repeating in their advertisements about the microplastics that cigarette butts are made of, contaminating food chains and causing health problems to animals and people.

While you might think smoking isn’t that big of a deal, smoking poses big risks for both the smoker and people around. As the World Health Organization continues the campaign of May 31st, we can help our local community by telling people to avoid smoking, and generally avoiding smoking and tobacco altogether.