World No Tobacco Day: Nearly 1.7 mn Sri Lankans engage in a puff daily

1 June 2019 02:34 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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While the anti-tobacco and anti-smoking campaign could be said to be successful in Sri Lanka with both showing sharp drops, 15% or more than 16,85,000 adults smoke cigarettes every day, making it an ongoing and dire public health threat, a survey has revealed.

Releasing a study paper after the survey to mark ‘World No Tobacco Day’ that fell yesterday (31), Director, Centre for Combating Tobacco (CCT) of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Dr. Mahesh Rajasuriya says tobacco harms the health, the treasury and the spirit of Sri Lanka.

“Even though fewer men die from tobacco related diseases and smoking in Sri Lanka than in other countries in the region, tobacco still kills 191 men every week necessitating action by the government,” Dr. Rajasuriya added.

“Every year, more than 12,300 Sri Lankans are killed by tobacco related diseases. Still, more than 6,000 children (10-14 years old) and 16,85,000 adults (15+ years old) continue to use tobacco each day. Complacency in the face of the tobacco epidemic insulates the tobacco industry in Sri Lanka and ensures that tobacco's death toll will grow every year. Tobacco control advocates must reach out to other communities and resources to strengthen their efforts and create change,” Dr. Rajasuriya stressed.

Even though fewer men die from tobacco use in Sri Lanka than in many other countries in the region, the economic cost of smoking in Sri Lanka amounts to 99,965 million rupees. This includes direct costs related to healthcare expenditure and indirect costs related to lost productivity due to early mortality and morbidity.

Smoking has to be banned at healthcare facilities, places of education, universities, government offices, indoor settings, restaurants, public transport and at places where the public gather.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared May 31 as World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The main aim of this campaign is to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure. This year the theme of the WNTD is "tobacco and lung health", highlighting the the negative impact that tobacco has on people’s lungs, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease and the fundamental role lungs play for your health and well-being.

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases. It affects the respiratory system, circulatory system, reproductive system, skin, eyes and also increases the risk of different types of cancer. In the same way there is no risk free level when it comes to second hand smoking which could lead to health problems especially in infants and children, including more frequent asthma attacks and respiratory Infections.

The tobacco industry is well known to interfere with policies and seeks to control actions that would prevent people from smoking. The ultimate goal of the tobacco industry is to expand their profits and the production by increasing tobacco consumption no matter how many are affected and die due to it the world over. (Sandun A Jayasekera)

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