A Medical Consultant, Kogi State Specialist Hospital, Lokoja, Dr Abdulrahman Jafar, on Saturday, May 29, urged government at all levels to intensify public awareness on the dangers of tobacco consumption.
Jafar made the call in an interview with the NAN in Lokoja on the sidelines of this year’s “World No Tobacco Day 2015 (WNTD).”
World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is marked on May 31 of every year to raise awareness on health risks associated with tobacco and to advocate effective policies to reduce its consumption.
The expert stressed the need for the government at all levels to make stringent laws that would discourage the use of tobacco because of its health risks in the society.
“Governments should do the needful to decreasing the large number of people that are losing their lives on the use of tobacco yearly.
“There should be a legislation that will ban the use of tobacco, and heavy taxation on companies that produce tobacco products in Nigeria,” he advised.
Jafar noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO), set up WNTD to draw attention to the fact that over five million people died from direct consumption of tobacco every year.
He also added that over 600, 000 persons die from indirect smoking yearly.
He said the theme for this year WNTD is "Stop Illicit Trade of Tobacco Products” focusing on getting countries to work together to stop illicit trade of tobacco products.
Jafar defined tobacco as a leafy plant grown in hotter climates, which can be chewed, sniffed or smoked depending on the choice of the consumers.
"After absorption, the nicotine additive chemical present in the plant is released into the blood stream causing the heart rate to speed up, and raises the blood pressure.
"It makes one feel more energetic for some time, but the lasting effects are much more dangerous to health,” he said.
The consultant stated that tobacco users are at high risk of exposure to lower or upper respiratory-tract infections, noting that the effects might not be immediate but events that occur over time.
"Even if the person had stopped smoking there is tendency that such person can still develop these infections at the later part of his life.
"Anybody who starts smoking at the age of 15 or 16, the probability that such person would see his 40th birthday is very low.
"Smokers are at high risk of lung cancers, airway infections, such as obstructive airway diseases and trachea infections.
"There are other medical conditions that are subtle in the body that smoking can aggravate, especially people who have hypertension, asthma, and other chronic terminal diseases,” Jafar explained.
The medical practitioner, however, urged all youths to disengage from the habit of tobacco consumption, as it poses a great harm to their health and shorten of their precious lives.
The immediate past Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, recently signed Tobacco Bills into law after it was passed by the National Assembly.