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World No Tobacco Day

The World No Tobacco Day on May 31st, fronted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other leading partners, aims to persuade individual countries to raise taxes on tobacco products with a view to deterring people from purchasing and exposing themselves to the dangers of smoking.

Find out more about the risks posed by tobacco, as well as some helpful advice on how you can kick the smoking habit once and for all.

Six million people are killed by tobacco each year, with the WHO expecting that figure to rise to more than eight million by 2030. Out of the six million annual tobacco-related deaths, 600,000 are non-smokers who die from inhaling second-hand smoke.
One in ten deaths worldwide is currently attributed to tobacco and the hope is that increased taxes will reduce overall consumption for what is described as 'the single most preventable cause of death in the world'.

In the UK alone, up to five times more people die from smoking related illnesses than road accidents, drug overdoses, murders and HIV combined.

Tobacco – the facts

According to statistics compiled by the WHO, tobacco kills as many as half of its users and is considered to be one of the largest global threats to public health. On average, one person dies every six seconds as a direct consequence of tobacco – with close to 80 per cent of deaths occurring in low and middle income countries.
Some of the most common illnesses caused by tobacco smoke include:

  • Cancer: Four in five cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking. Mouth, liver, stomach, kidney and bowel cancer are just some of the other most common cancers which have been found to be caused by tobacco use.
  • Heart attack
  • Circulatory Disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis and emphysema – both of which cause blockages to airways.

The dangers of second hand smoke

In recent years more and more countries around the world have introduced outright smoking bans in bars, restaurants, offices and other public buildings. This is a result of the increased awareness of the serious threat posed by second hand smoke.
Non-smokers frequently subjected to tobacco smoke are at risk of heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and breathing problems. 600,000 non-smokers worldwide die each year from tobacco related illnesses, with the UK alone accounting for 11,000 of those deaths.

Children are especially vulnerable to tobacco fumes, as their developing bodies are more susceptible to asthma and chest conditions. The damage done during the early years can also lead to cancer in later life.

Second hand smoke mainly consists of what is known as 'sidestream smoke' which originates from the tip of the cigarette. This particular type of smoke is far more dangerous than the smoke inhaled directly from the cigarette and contains a range of chemicals which have been found to cause cancer. The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK spends an estimated £2.7bn treating tobacco related illnesses each year. For many, particularly the elderly, recovering from a stroke or living with an ongoing cancer condition can prove to be a considerable challenge. Whilst the assistance of friends and family is invaluable, those in the later stages of life can also benefit from 24 hour care and support at a care home.

Looking to quit?

It's never too late to quit smoking, regardless of your age or condition. Even if you've been a heavy smoker for years, there are significant health benefits attached to finally kicking the habit.

It goes without saying that a good dose of willpower is necessary to fully quit smoking, however, there's no shortage of support to be had. Nicotine patches, sprays and gums are available, as well as the increasingly popular electronic cigarettes. A range of support groups exist up and down the country, which can provide great support for those struggling to resist their nicotine cravings.

Why not kick off your battle against tobacco by taking the NHS addiction test, which can provide an indication of how big a challenge you face when it comes to quitting smoking once and for all.

The following organisations can also provide help, support and advice to those wishing to quit smoking:

Tobacco industry

It's no secret that the global tobacco industry is a huge business, hence why tobacco products continue to be produced despite the affect it has on people's health. In the UK alone, The Treasury earned an estimated £12bn from tobacco duties between 2011 and 2012 alone.

In 2013, UK smokers spent in the region of £14bn on tobacco products. This in turn leads to a significant drain on the National Health Service (NHS), which spends an estimated £2.7bn each year on treatments for tobacco related illnesses.

The World No Tobacco Day hopes that increased taxation on tobacco will lead to less people developing a smoking habit in the future, thus helping to improve people's long term health and life expectancy in the future.


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