Over Five Million People Die Annually Due to Tobacco Intake, Says WHO

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Paul Obi in Abuja

As the world celebrate the Family Doctors’ Day today, a World Health Organisation (WHO) report indicates that over five million people die worldwide as a result of tobacco intake annually as many are affected by lung cancer, heart diseases including heart attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, erectile dysfunction, birth defects and other ailments.

The report also revealed that about one billion people worldwide practice tobacco smoking with reasons given as recreational and fulfilment of some religious rituals, among several others.

The President of the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN), Dr. Frank Omo-Ehijele Odafen, who spoke on the 2016 theme: ‘Smoking Cessation’, told journalists yesterday in Abuja, that many passive smokers such as children, are affected by the behaviour of others especially where there are no laws protecting non smokers.

He stated that smoking “killed approximately half of long term smokers when compared to age mortality rates faced by non-smokers.” The association called on the federal government to put some wholesome laws in place which is expected to protect non-smokers.

He urged “government to legislate that every family should have a family doctor as according to him, a family doctor is not only a healthcare provider but a decision maker, communicator, community leader, team member and an advocate for the patients in health, sickness, death and even post mortis.

“Government at all levels should ban smoking in public places/transport systems; government should institute high taxation on tobacco products, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)should run advertorials on TV/ radio to discourage smoking; government should disallow all commercials advertising promoting smoking in the media- print and electronic and government should provide social rehabilitation centres for those willing to give up smoking.”
“Cultural practices that discourage children and youths from embracing smoking should be given more impetus and government should legislate that every family should have a family doctor,” Odafen stressed.

Also, President of the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFPON), Col Dr, Akin Moses, stated that “smoking cessation is an important behaviourial change that can have considerable effect on health outcomes.
“The initiation, maintenance and cessation of smoking are strongly influenced by family members. In particular, support involving cooperative behaviours and reinforcement by family members predict successful quitting,” Moses said.
SOFPON President further stated that the World Family Doctors Day will be marked with visitation to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, orphanage homes and giving lectures across the city.