Everyone will do almost anything to get a cure when a deadly disease comes knocking. The words of the late reggae musician Peter Tosh becomes apt: “Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die. It is however a fact that while many bring the illnesses upon themselves as a result of a life of indulgence, some others are victims of what others do. Tobacco consumption falls under this category. A host of illnesses can be linked to consumption of tobacco, including cancers.
In as much as their have been campaigns targeted at informing people of the risks involved in smoking, there are still a large number of literate smoking addicts who know the dangers that tobacco poses but still refuse to take any step towards asphyxiating their addiction. When asked, why? A literate addicted cigarette smoker would proudly retort “something must kill a man”. These category can be blamed for the outcome of their choice but the truth is their families carry the burden when their health take a turn for the worse.
Cigarette addiction is caused by the presence of nicotine in its content. Nicotine is the chemical that makes smoking addictive, and is absorbed pretty quickly into the body. Nicotine is highly addictive, in fact, some experts suggest that nicotine could be just as addictive as heroin. It is the pleasure derived from this addictive substance that make victims disregard the warnings against smoking and stay clued to the deadly habit.
What occurs in the body during smoking is that, as you take the first drag, smoke passes through your mouth and pushes into the system chemicals such as formaldehyde and. Once in the windpipe, the cigarette smoke temporarily slows cilia – the tiny sweepers that work to clear man’s respiratory system of mucus and invading particles. Meanwhile, airborne nicotine passes instantly into the bloodstream through the millions of capillaries in the lungs. The body then gets a jolt of energy as the nicotine hits the adrenal glands, activating an outpouring of adrenaline that raises blood pressure and heart rate. The heart is unable to relax fully, living the consumer at a higher risk of having a stroke. Carbon monoxide also starts building up in the blood, limiting the body’s ability to transport oxygen to vital organs. When nicotine hits the brain, the body yearns for another high even if the victim is not aware of it. Giving in frequently to this craving, the brain will get hooked. Even when the cigarette smoke is gone, the body will be mopping up toxic substances for hours.
With the kind of picture painted above, it is no wonder that experts believe an epidemic of tobacco-related diseases in Nigeria and other developing nations is imminent. Tobacco use is now a major health issue for women as well as men. Tobacco companies meanwhile, engage in aggressive marketing strategies such as sponsorship and organising of secret smoking parties where youths are encouraged to take up the smoking habit. In these godless parties they are lured into trying out cigarettes in glamorous packs that portray smoking as hype. Free sticks of cigarettes are encouraged.
These marketing strategies attract the youth and once they take the first drag, they get addicted to the deadly product. This well-planned process is employed by multinational tobacco companies to keep youths to stay glued to smoking tobacco.
It is unarguable that there is need for the government to come to rescue our citizens who are struggling with tobacco addiction by putting adequate law in place that will completely eliminate the flow and circulation of tobacco products in our country. In as much as Nigeria has signed the National Tobacco Control Act into law, the foot-dragging and backflips between the Ministry of Health and the National Assembly in coming up with, and approving effective regulations for its implementation is worrisome.
Counselling and rehabilitation centers should also be established to cater for victims of tobacco addiction. This will assist victims come out of theses deadly habits. We hope the government will listen.
By Faith Osuoka