TB and Tobacco Consumption Kill Millions of People Every Year

The connection between breath and life is fundamental, yet lung health organizations seem not committed for the public health agenda.

Around 10 million people especially the poor, old and the weak die every year due to lung diseases.One of these deadly disease is tuberculosis. Other lung diseases like asthma, pneumonia, influenza, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder also plagued the public health.

One common factor which links all these diseases is consumption of tobacco. Tobacco use remains legal. It kills more than 5 million people each year including more than 1.3 million who die of lung cancer. Apart from this, thousands of others suffer due to exposure to second hand smoke. There is direct evidence in the US of heart disease cases dropping dramatically with a ban on smoking.

With an increase in awareness about ill effects of smoking in the developed countries, tobacco companies are shifting base to developing countries in a big way. They are making subtle and nefarious ways to get youngsters hooked to tobacco. They are offering candy flavoured chewing tobacco which is called gutkha or pan masala in India and herbal cigarettes to lure especially women and children. They believe that these lethal addictions are harmless. There is a strong debate worldwide to ban flavoured and herbal cigarettes.

We have to remember that all types of tobacco are not good to our health whether chewing or inhaling. There are herbal and mild tobaccos. But all of them contain a highly addictive and harmful ingredients which is the nicotine.

Social awareness is the key to success of controlling tobacco use. A change in our thought process coupled with appropriate legislative action can bring down the epidemic of lung diseases to a large extent. The process has already begun.

Smoking at airports and inside hospitals is now prohibited. But there should be no special smoking zones anywhere. There are cases which such prohibition are not impleted.

Some studies have shown a direct link between price and cigarette usage. An increase in taxes brings down cigarette consumption. But social awareness will be permanent and effective tools. It is here that we can use the expertise of kids to force parents to quit. Children’s persuasive powers are strong and cannot be underestimated.

The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) has been very involved with its efforts to ban smoking/tobacco use throughout the world. It offers widespread support to the more than 160 nations that have ratified the first-ever international public health treaty. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control also calls upon the remaining countries to do so.

The challenge is to put “Lung In Action” to ensure that each one of us understands the risks and symptoms of lung diseases and how to keep lungs healthy.

(Based on an interview given exclusively to CNS by Dr. Dean