Setting an enlightened example to Sri Lanka, British doctors have called for a permanent ban on selling cigarettes to anyone born in this century in a bid to eradicate smoking from Britain entirely. According to the Daily Mail newspaper the radical plan would see the age limit for buying tobacco - currently set at 18 - rise every year until the last cigarette smokers die out, at which point smoking would be illegal for everyone.
Doctors have asked the powerful British Medical Association to lobby the Government for a ban on tobacco sales to people born after the year 2000.
At the BMA’s public health conference in London recently, doctors urged the Government to bring in draconian measures which will stop young people smoking.
‘Humanity has never developed anything more deadly than the cigarette,’ said Tim Crocker-Buqué, a registrar working in Tower Hamlets.
‘The combination of its addictive power and devastating health effects combined with historical social norms and powerful advertising campaigns killed 100 million people in the 20th century.
‘The continuing epidemic is predicted to kill hundreds of millions more over the 21st century.’
The calls were led by Dr Tim Crocker-Buqué, a registrar from East London.
He cited statistics showing that 80 per cent of smokers start when they are teenagers, and that someone who starts smoking aged 15 is three times as likely to die of a related cancer than smokers who start in their 20s.
‘This is a highly addictive product that kills 50 per cent of the users and it is so patently over the balance of harm that we must now work to prevent the next generation from falling into the nicotine trap,’ Dr Crocker-Buqué said.
‘I do not want our children smoking and nor should anybody else. If they haven’t already started, then let’s keep them smoke-free for life.’
In Sri Lanka Parliament on February 19—in a rare act of all party unity passed a law on pictorial health warnings on packets of cigarettes, after the Ceylon Tobacco Company went to court against an earlier health ministry regulation.According to the new law the pictorial health warning must cover 80 percent of the packet of cigarettes. Similar laws are in effect in several other countries.
The office of the Surgeon General of the United States, which in 1964 released the first landmark report against the deadly health risks of tobacco said in January this year that modern cigarettes were even more dangerous.
“How cigarettes are made and the chemicals they contain have changed over the years, and some of those changes may be a factor in higher lung cancer risks,” acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak said.
In addition to lung cancer, active smoking can cause a common form of blindness called age-related macular degeneration, as well as diabetes, colorectal cancer and liver cancer, the report said.
Smoking can also cause tuberculosis, erectile dysfunction, facial clefts in infants, ectopic pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, impaired immune function, and worsens the outlook for cancer patients and survivors.
Those who do not smoke but are exposed to second-hand smoke face an increased risk of stroke, the report said. In Sri Lanka in addition to the toabacco company, there is a thriving small and medium sector industry making ‘beedie’ which do not have filters and ‘white beedie’ which are much cheaper than the highly-taxed tobacco. Tobacco is a key source of state revenue.
Though the law was passed more than a month ago packets of cigarettes still do not carry the 80 percent pictorial warning and dealers give the usual excuse of saying they are selling old stocks. Thus we urge the Government to strictly implement the law while also giving serious consideration to the recommendations of the British doctors so that the next generation will be saved from the cancer of tobacco.
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