As a reminder to the public that there is a better life beyond tobacco, World No Tobacco Day is celebrated (today) on May 31.This year's theme is Tobacco-Free Youth.
The harmful effects of tobacco are well documented, yet many people are still unaware of them, and many who are aware are unwilling to unable to quit. Tobacco is more than a public issue, it is a subject that concerns the development of planet Earth In many developing countries where its ill effects are not well-known, smoking puts an unbearable strain on health care resources. Coupled with the premature deaths of many adults, the effect on the health of the youth is staggering. Five million people die every year as a result of the effects of tobacco products. This number is expected to increase to 10 million a year in the first half of the 21st century. Hundreds of millions of children alive today will have their lives cut short by tobacco-related illnesses. Half the people who smoke regularly today will eventually be killed by tobacco. Far from being a mere annoyance or discomfort, breathing second-hand smoke is harmful for all. Exposure to second-hand smoke causes cancer and contributes to lung and heart diseases. It can cause asthma and other respiratory illnesses in children and it has been implicated in other child diseases such as middle-ear infections. Scientists agree that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke whether it is within the home or outside it. Smoking is a fast-spreading cause of indoor air pollution and is not helped much by ventilation. In many countries, tobacco use is rising among young people. Most smokers begin while in their teenage years or earlier. There are a number of complex and interacting reasons why children and adolescents begin smoking. Often they mistake smoking for an attribute of independence, an image ably built by tobacco advertising and promotional activities. For its survival, the tobacco industry needs to constantly recruit new smokers to replace those who die from smoking-related diseases. On World No Tobacco Day 2008, let us pledge to protect ourselves and our children from the debilitating effects of smoking and second-hand smoke.