Editor's note: "The next time someone smokes close to you, run! Run for your dear life," calls Hussain Obaro, Naij.com guest contributor, in another write-up to the platform. He suggests public smoking ban should be imposed in Nigeria claiming "smokers should only be allowed to do their thing within the boundaries of their rooms".
- "Health experts have asserted that the health risk of passive smoking is even more than that of direct smoking".
- "About 2.5million adult non-smokers have died of passive smoking-caused diseases in the USA since 1964".
- "The popular Nigerian saying “chop alone and die alone” should be applied as far as smoking is concerned".
- "Since smokers have decided to send an open invitation to death, they should therefore be allowed to die alone without jeopardizing the health of other Nigerians".
The Federal Ministry of Health has made remarkable success in its anti-smoking campaign by enforcing all tobacco companies in Nigeria to use the phrase “smokers are liable to die young” in advertisements and put it on the product itself. However, the harmful effect of passive smoking has not yet received any serious attention from the government or any relevant agency. Meanwhile, health experts have asserted that the health risk of passive smoking is even more than that of direct smoking.
Due to the lack of credible statistics from Nigeria I will refer to that of the USA. According to the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of them are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer. About 2.5million adult non-smokers have died of passive smoking-caused diseases since 1964. Passive smoking causes numerous health problems to children including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Inhaling secondhand smoke during pregnancy results in more than 1000 infant deaths annually.
Constant exposure to passive smoking has immediate adverse effect on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and stroke. In the United States it causes nearly 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease among non-smokers each year. Innocent people who are exposed to passive smoking at home and at work increase their risk for stroke by 20 to 30 percent as passive smoking causes more than 8,000 deaths from stroke annually. Inhalation of secondhand smoke does harm to blood and blood vessels thereby increasing the risk of heart attack. It interferes with the normal functioning of the heart, blood and the rest of the vascular system. Even a brief exposure to secondhand smoke can damage the lining of the blood vessels and cause platelets to become stickier which could result into a heart attack. People who already have heart disease are at especially high risk of suffering adverse effect from breathing secondhand smoke and therefore should take special precautions.
Diseases like lung cancer may also be caused by passive smoking because non-smokers inhale many of the same cancer causing substances and poisons as smokers. Studies show that the children whose parent smoke get sick more often, their lungs are less developed, and they get bronchitis and pneumonia more often than the children whose parents don’t smoke. Wheezing and coughing, pediatric asthma and ear infections are prominent with the kids whose parents smoke.
The popular Nigerian saying “chop alone and die alone” should be applied as far as smoking is concerned. It is morally wrong and socially unfair for some persons to continue “enjoying” smoking while others die as a result of breathing secondhand smoke. Hence, there is the need for the Federal Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies to brace up to the challenge of protecting our right to free and fresh air. As a matter of urgent importance, the federal government should liaise with the National Assembly to prohibit public smoking like it has already been done in the Netherland and most of the states in the USA. The step taken by Lagos state government is a bold one, and the same should be replicated by the federal government.
All categories of schools, hospitals, market places, shopping malls and eateries, airport and motor parks, all religious, political and social gatherings should be the places where smoking is prohibited. The law enforcement agents should be adequately trained and empowered by law to apprehend and prosecute offenders accordingly. Public smoking remains one of the greatest crimes of (an ignorant) man’s inhumanity to his fellow men. Smokers should only be allowed to do their thing within the boundaries of their rooms. Since they have decided to send an open invitation to death, they should therefore be allowed to die alone without jeopardizing the health of other Nigerians. The next time someone smokes close to you, run! Run for your dear life.
Hussain Obaro is a writer motivational speaker and public affairs commentator from Ilorin, Kwara state.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Naij.com.