|Official picture and logo of the United Nations for World No Tobacco Day|
By Anna Joseph.
Anna is the Communications Officer at the Centre.
Imagine yourself an average xteen-year-old at your favourite hang-out.
Your bosom pal/hot stranger/class mate/casual friend sitting next to you passes you your first fag – a lit one.
Would you take a drag?
If you think you would, then you also know why there are so many smokers all over the world.
If you think you won’t, you probably still know why there are so many smokers;
if not, then is it because you feel smokers are weak and indecisive, and most of all, totally irresponsible when it comes to their own health and that of their loved ones?
Assuming that you fall into the third category, let’s try to understand why people who normally would not play with fire, taunt poisonous snakes, expose their children to dangerous situations or jump off cliffs … would deliberately choose a path spiraling down to certain illness or near-certain death.
The making of a smoker
It's common knowledge that cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance. Addiction, it is important to know, is not a bad habit that has not been dealt with.
Addiction involves physiological dependence, with its conditions of tolerance and withdrawal. (In fact, some research suggests that dependence on nicotine may be even more than what heroin can induce.)
Once you get there, your body and your mind will actually punish you if you deny yourself. This is because the loss of nicotine causes feelings of anxiety, high irritability and depression. And why it is so easy to give in is because just one cigarette is the quick-fix solution to those punishing feelings.
It is this simple though vicious cycle that has created millions of smokers around the world.
Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times. – Mark Twain
How bad is it, really?
More than half the people who keep smoking will die as a direct result of the addiction. And half of those who die will die middle-aged.
That’s how bad it is.
Mortality in relation to smoking: 50 years' observations on male British doctors
The global burden
Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in the world today. According to World Bank statistics, presently, the annual number of deaths due to tobacco-related illnesses around the world is more than 5 million – approximately one in ten adults.
The big, bad wolf
The big, bad wolf is Big Tobacco which refers to the five big tobacco companies - four are publicly traded companies - that make most of the cigarettes sold around the world.
They are British American Tobacco, the China National Tobacco Company, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco and Philip Morris International.
Reports for 2008 show that the collective revenues of these companies exceeded $300 billion and of this amount, more than $160 billion was paid as taxes.
Developing countries – soft targets
While tobacco use is decreasing in developed countries because of strong campaigns against smoking and strict regulations, it is increasing in developing countries. Within a few decades, 80% of tobacco-related deaths will occur in developing countries.
This is partly because of the global industry’s marketing strategy of targeting young people and adults in these countries. While India and China, the big gaming grounds, are out of bounds for Big Tobacco because of their protective measures for local firms, Indonesia (where one in four children between the ages of 13 and 15 smokes) and Philippines are ready markets because of their growth potential and relative lack of regulation.
|Freud committed suicide because of oral cancer. (Photo courtesy Wikipedia)|