By Francis Okoye
The facts have emerged that tobacco threatens health of everyone on planet earth. According to Prof. Rama Kant, WHO Director General Awardee for Tobacco control and former head of surgery, KGMU, India “Tobacco kills upto half of its users. 1/3 of the world are addicted to tobacco, 1/3 of the world are poor, while another 1/3 suffer from tuberculosis. Tobacco kills 7 million people each year, 6 million as a result of direct tobacco use. Tobacco use is a threat to any person, brings suffering, disease and death.

It improvises families and national economics. 80% of premature death from tobacco are from poor, middle income countries. 1 million deaths are as a result of second hand smoke.

These were revealed in a webinar organized by Citizen News Service (CNS) to mark World No Tobacco day 2017, with the title “Tobacco end game is imperative for sustainable development”. Prof. Kant was one of the experts who gave a talk at the webinar.

Prof. Kant spoke of the dangers of second hand smoke, that is smoke that fills restaurants, offices and other public places as a result of tobacco use.

Second hand smoke causes sudden death to infants, in adults it leads to chronic respiratory disease, heart diseases, bergers disease, lung cancer. In pregnant women, second hand smoke causes low birth weight, abortion, congenital deformities, mental retardation. There is no safe exposure to second hand tobacco smoke. Almost half of children regularly breath air of tobacco (exposed to second hand smoke).

Tobacco in any form is harmful, either by use of water pipes etc. One hour of smoking water pipes is equivalent to 100 cigarettes smoked.
Key Non communicable diseases related to tobacco
1. Heart disease and stroke
2. Cancer- They are 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke. 250 of them are known to be harmful. 50 are known to cause cancer.
3. Diabetes- Smoking tobacco double risks of diabetes ,leads to insulin secretion and insulin resistance.
4. Chronic Respiratory Disease- COPD is usually caused by smoking. Smoking accounts for 8 out of 10 COPD deaths.
E-Cigarettes according to Prof Kant are not tested by Independent Scientists. They are no reliable evidence that ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery) helps tobacco quitters. Nicotine is addictive, he concludes.

The experts identified 12 ways of cessation of tobacco use, which includes use of religious faith, pharmacotherapy, family counseling and psychological counseling. No patty is successful unless there is sympathy. Behavioral change and advocates use of combination nicotine replacement therapy for recession.

Speaking at the webinar, Michelle Rayes-Palmones, Technical Adviser to International Union against tuberculosis and lung disease. ‘Nearly 1 0ut of 4 Filipion adults use tobacco’ she states.

Mpower strategy was devised in order to assist country level implementation of effective intervention to reduce demand for tobacco. She talked about the republic Act 10351 or the sin tax reform which helped to finance universal health care program. Excise tax system on alcohol and tobacco and related healthcare problems were solved-money realized subsidized Healthcare. Phil Health Beneficiaries 52.92Million in 2015 up from 20.43million in 2012 in National Government.

Also introduce was the DOH red Orchids Award in search of 100% Tobacco free province, while following WHO FCTC article 8. The no deal with Tobacco industry, saw PH warning labels in Nov. 2016, with warning message on both sides of pack of cigarettes as against only 1 message. It Achieved Significant declines in Tobacco use. Tobacco use parlance halved among women.

Response to Tobacco smoking as a result of Mpower showed decline in all public places and nearly halfed in government buildings and healthcare facilities (GATS Philippines 2015)

More smokers are interested in quitting, trying to quit. In 2009 ,27.0% interested in quitting, 47.9% made attempt to quit, while in 2015, 76.7% interested in quitting Tobacco while 52.2% made attempts.

Another expert, Cloe Franko, Snr. International Organizer, challenge Big Tobacco, Corporate Accountability international and leadership of Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT), analyzing Tobacco interference, and article 19, Tobacco Interference Liability, suggest that parties consider holding liable Tobacco companies, compensate for harms and generate resourses, punish wrong doings, explore and stop abuses, denormalize the industry, discourage Tobacco consumption ,explore untapped potentials to shift cost back into Tobacco interference.

Some of her suggestions and roadmap to protect Health from Big Tobacco include to prohibit partnership, conflict of interest for government officials, revolving doors, and corporate social responsibility by Big Tobacco Companies.

The webinar was dedicated to two Anti Tobacco fighters who passed away recently. Ms Amteshwar Kaur, Senior Lawyer, tobacco control advocate, founder Generation Saviour Association- which strive for a Tobacco free Punjab. And Yul Francisco Dorado, Latin America director of Corporate accountability international and leader of NATT from Colombia.

His son, a lawyer also, Daniel shared his mouths of the of his dad’s work “I have been collaborating in the last year with Corporate Accountability International, I am happy to dedicate this page to talk about his work, mission thoughts, no tobacco day for my dad. I would think this is the day to think of potential of FCTC, it’s a dynamic instrument, its potential to include many topics such as SDGs highlight my dad vision of how tobacco control will impose or highlight climate change, consumer rights, economic topic.

Tobacco control not only has to been seen as health topic but a holistic thing to development of all those human right around the world. FCTC will work and develop if we work together.

One of the moderators Ashok Ramsarup, an award winning journalist captures it this ‘Tobacco related disease and death is preventable, tobacco cripples economy and health system? This is the right time to act. Shoubla Shukla, CNS Managing Editor was also part of the webinar.