by Juliana Katung, Kaduna
Ahead of world international ‘No Tobacco Day,’ a Kaduna-base non-governmental organization, ‘The Eye Opener Youth Women Foundation,’ has embarked on sensitizing Nigerian citizens through house-to-house campaign and also using social media platform on all dangers associated with tobacco smoking, to reduce numbers of death among youth and teenagers across the country.
This was made known by president-cum founder of the group, Mrs Margaret Julius, in an interview with journalist in Kaduna during the week.
According to her, the No Tobacco Day, which is supposed to take place on May 31, will not be holding due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She asserted, however, that the decision became mandatory but for the group to educate and enlighten more youths and teenagers on dangers associated with cigarette smoking in view of the large number of people that died annually as a result of diseases associated with cigarette smoking.
She said, world health organization reports 2020 pointed that tobacco kills more than 8 millions of people each year, and more are affected with various cancer problems.
The NGO president stressed that smoking not only causes cancer; it can damage nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones.
According to her, “Teenage cigarette smokers are more likely to get into fights, carry weapons, attempt suicide, suffer from mental health problems such as depression, and engage in high-risk sexual behaviors.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean that tobacco use caused these behaviors, but they’re more common in teens, who use tobacco now-a-days.
“The teenagers and youths of now-a-days use the new method of smoking – using decorated pot called Shisha, which enables them to mix cigarette and other traditional leaves to make them feel ‘ok.’ ”
Mrs Julius also revealed that, “More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use, while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke,” adding that cigarette smokers die younger than non-smokers.”
The campaign was aimed at discouraging youths and teenagers in communities across the north on harmful effect of cigarette smoking and also to sensitize them on ways to halt all forms of smoking, which include “Indian hemp” and other means of smoking, so as to make their lives better in the future.
“The campaign cut across all the 19 northern states of Nigeria,” she said, adding also that before the end of June, they will extend the campaign to some parts of southern Nigeria.
She further says, “Smoking tobacco affects human health in many ways, which include increased risk of gum disease and tooth loss, wounds taking longer to heal, decreased immune system function.
“Increased risk of type 2 diabetes, decreased sense of smell and taste, premature aging of the skin, bad breath and stained teeth, increased risk for cataracts (clouding of the lenses of the eyes), higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, increased risk for age-related macular degeneration, which can cause blindness.”
The founder says, “Smoking damages the airways and small air sacs in smokers’ lungs. This damage starts early in smokers and lung function continues to worsen as long as the person smokes.
“Cigarette smoking and the use of tobacco products causes serious health problems in children and teens. Over time, smokers then develop the health problems discussed above, and often at younger ages,” she stated.
Julius noted that this is the 5th time her group is organizing a campaign against cigarette smoking to save Nigerian children and youths from dangers associated with cigarette smoking.
Meanwhile, environmental health experts have called for smoking ban in playgrounds, parks, football stadiums and other public places.
The director of a non-governmental organization, ‘African Climate Reporters,’ Comrade Nurudden Bello, said in an interview that “Smoking should be banned in all parks, football viewing centers, market stations and playgrounds to reduce the chances of children growing up thinking that using cigarettes is normal.”
He said banning it in those locations would also protect children from secondhand smoke.
In a research conducted by the NGO, it has shown clearly that teen tobacco users are more likely to use alcohol and illegal drugs than are non-users.
He then called on parents and guardians to always monitor and advice their children on dangers of smoking, while calling on youth leaders to always educate their groups on its harmfulness to human health.