As part of the World No Tobacco day campaign to raise awareness on the ￼effects of tobacco, the Cameroon Consumer Foundation (FOCACO) has called on the government of Cameroon to place an effective ban on smoking in public places for health reasons.
This is through an open letter to the ministries of public health, Dr Manaouda Malachi and another addressed to the minister of Trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana to push for the ban. While stating the dangers of tobacco, the foundation revealed that thousands of Cameroonians especially women and children are risking their lives from inhaling smoke from tobacco products since most consumers do it publicly.
FOCACO expressed frustration over the fact that companies continue to make advertisements to encourage youth to smoke and become long term smokers.
Apart from banning smoking in public places as one of the measures proposed by the consumer group to the government, they are also against the promotion and sponsorship of tobacco, street advertising of the products, smoking in video clips, introduction of neutral cigarette packs without logos and most especially inside drinking spots as cafes, snacks and bars.
However some institutions in Cameroon have banned and implemented the decision of no smoking in public places.
According to WHO the annual no tobacco campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, and to discourage the use of tobacco in any form.
The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2019 is on “tobacco and lung health.” The campaign will increase awareness on:
- the negative impact that tobacco has on people’s lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease,
- the fundamental role lungs play for the health and well-being of all people.
The campaign also serves as a call to action, advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control.
How tobacco endangers the lung health of people worldwide
World No Tobacco Day 2019 will focus on the multiple ways that exposure to tobacco affects the health of people’s lungs worldwide.
Lung cancer. Tobacco smoking is the primary cause for lung cancer, responsible for over two thirds of lung cancer deaths globally. Second-hand smoke exposure at home or in the work place also increases risk of lung cancer. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of lung cancer: after 10 years of quitting smoking, risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.
Chronic respiratory disease. Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition where the build-up of pus-filled mucus in the lungs results in a painful cough and agonising breathing difficulties. The risk of developing COPD is particularly high among individuals who start smoking at a young age, as tobacco smoke significantly slows lung development. Tobacco also exacerbates asthma, which restricts activity and contributes to disability. Early smoking cessation is the most effective treatment for slowing the progression of COPD and improving asthma symptoms.
Across the life-course. Infants exposed in-utero to tobacco smoke toxins, through maternal smoking or maternal exposure to second-hand smoke, frequently experience reduced lung growth and function. Young children exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of the onset and exacerbation of asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis, and frequent lower respiratory infections.
Globally, an estimated 60 000 children die before the age of 5 of lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand smoke. Those who live on into adulthood continue to suffer the health consequences of second-hand smoke exposure, as frequent lower respiratory infections in early childhood significantly increase risk of developing COPD in adulthood.
Tuberculosis. Tuberculosis (TB) damages the lungs and reduces lung function, which is further exacerbated by tobacco smoking. About one quarter of the world’s population has latent TB, placing them at risk of developing the active disease. People who smoke are twice as likely to fall ill with TB. Active TB, compounded by the damaging lung health effects of tobacco smoking, substantially increases risk of disability and death from respiratory failure.
Air pollution. Tobacco smoke is a very dangerous form of indoor air pollution: it contains over 7 000 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Though smoke may be invisible and odourless, it can linger in the air for up to five hours, putting those exposed at risk of lung cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and reduced lung function.
Maikem Emmanuela Manzie