By: Laiq Ahmed Atif Credit: The Malta Independent Date: 13 June 2012
The advancement of medical sciences has made the lives of people more safe and secure. Different new treatments have been invented for curing human illnesses and diseases. On the other hand, it is also a reality that certain diseases and health-related problems are also increasing rapidly. The question arises: Why?
Some of the main causes concerning health problems are smoking, alcoholism and the use of drugs. Smoking is very common and the only legal drug – also easily available and within the reach of everyone. Tobacco is one of the causes of severe and fatal diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, asthma, skin problems, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and heart attack.
According to the World Health Organisation, smoking kills more people than any disease in the world. Smoking takes the lives of millions of people around the world every year. Tobacco use is the second cause of death globally (after hypertension) and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide. And around 650,000 people die of smoking-related causes in Europe every year, a figure which is on the increase at a rapid speed. Each day, nearly 2,800 people, including kids, start smoking on a daily basis. About two billion people smoke all around the world.
If we analyse the above statistics, it is very easy to find that most of the criminals and drug addicted people started from little and minor things. It should not come as any surprise that one common view is that many young boys and girls are influenced by their peers to start smoking, and then they may be led towards other addictive drugs, and eventually, these kids may become agents or drug dealers themselves. Parents have the double duty to shoulder the responsibility – if they smoke, their children are more likely to start smoking. Parents who smoke may tell their children the harms the cigarettes cause, however they lose their argument on moral grounds as they are the role model for their children. When they smoke themselves, children may not get the strong message, because ‘actions speak louder than words’. Parents should remain cautioned to be watchful over their children, and lead by examples.
Smoking does not only harm human health, but it is also a waste of money – a heavy burden on the economy and monthly budget of every family. And in the time of economical crises that are looming on the world economy, the use of tobacco is making it worse and the families are suffering as it is becoming hard for them to meet their daily ends.
Smoking is also one of the causes of increasing poverty. According to statistics, 28.8% of adults who smoke live below the poverty level and 20.3% of adults who smoke live at or above the poverty level. And students who smoke also risk their studies because they spend a considerable amount on buying cigarettes.
Sometimes cigarettes can become the cause of big tragedies because some people throw their cigarette-ends after smoking and if they do not extinguish them properly, these cigarette-ends may set the place on fire which may create problems.
With all this information readily available, shared and discussed, I fail to understand why people continue to smoke
According to various smoking-related studies, people normally smoke for one of the following reasons: They are used to it and can’t stop, to feel energised and alert, it helps them relax and cope with difficult situations, because of emotional and physical abuse, trauma, pain, stress, boredom, curiosity, wanting to experiment with something new, addiction and the easy availability of cigarettes. Many people claim that smoking keeps them thin, but the truth is that smoking reduces the sense of taste, and they simply eat less as they don’t find the food tasty. The glamorous tobacco advertising campaign also has a big influence on people who smoke.
Whilst the above explanations may all be valid, the outcome of smoking is highly harmful, not only individually but also at the family and social level.
Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in the world. Recent studies have found that smokers can undermine the health of non-smokers in some environments. A study shows that even the smell of cigarette smoke is toxic, and smoking people transfer heavy health risks to others around them. And in the case of the minors, it affects them very badly.
Considering the importance of this issue, every year on 31 May, the WHO celebrates World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce consumption. The World Health Assembly created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and its lethal effects.
The day provides a great opportunity to remind people of the consequences of tobacco use, to emphasise specific messages to control the usage of tobacco and to promote awareness in the public about the gravity of smoking.
After presenting some figures and details about smoking, may I repeat my question: Why do people smoke? Are you ready to quit this habit? Are you ready to make your wonderful homeland a smoke-free country? Let’s join hands to make Malta the first smoke-free country on the planet earth, for ourselves, for our children and for the sake of the entire nation and human race.
Laiq Ahmed Atif is President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta firstname.lastname@example.org