A smoke-free society for future generations

A smoke-free society for future generations

Smoking is an act of inhaling tobacco on specially processing and burning in fire. Inhalation of smoke from any common product is smoking, but inhalation of burning smoke from tobacco products is generally identified as smoking. Smoking is one of the leading causes and carriers of many diseases, including tuberculosis and lung cancer. When a smoker intentionally inhales smoke from a burning cigarette and sends it directly into the lungs, it is called active smoking.

Passive smoking is when part of the smoke during smoking spreads to the surrounding environment and involuntarily enters another person's body through inhalation. Studies have shown that cigarette smoke contains 56 toxic chemicals, including nicotine. According to a 2010 World Health Organisation study conducted in 192 countries around the world, about 600,000 people worldwide die each year as a result of second-hand smoking, even if they do not smoke themselves. One 165,000 of them are children.

Children succumb to pneumonia and asthma due to secondhand smoking. In addition, secondhand smoking causes heart disease, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. Studies have also shown that secondhand smoking has a more detrimental effect on women than men. About 81,000 women worldwide die each year as a result of secondhand smoke. A previous study, conducted in 2004, found that 40 percent of those exposed to secondhand smoke were children, 33 percent were non-smoker men, and 35 percent were women. It also shows that people in Europe and Asia are suffering the most due to secondhand smoking.

Most smokers start smoking during adolescence or early adolescence. Smoking has elements of risk-taking and rebellion, which are often appealing to young people. Smokers often say that cigarettes help relieve stress. Adult smokers have slightly higher stress levels than non-smokers.  But instead of acting as a helper in mood control, the resulting nicotine dependence increases stress. From the daily mood states described by smokers, it is confirmed that the mood is normal during smoking and the mood worsens during non-smoking state.

Cigarette smoking contains carcinogenic mutants. They cause cancer of the human mouth, trachea, esophagus and lungs. Smoking causes inflammation and coughing in the airways which is called bronchitis. This causes the trachea to constrict slowly, causing asthma and shortness of breath. The lungs become largely inactive. Smoking narrows the airways and causes severe swelling in the lungs. This is called emphysema. This results complex changes in the lungs. Mucus is seen coming out of the lungs with severe coughing and sneezing by people due to smoking. This is called whooping cough.

According to the Smoking and Use of Tobacco Products Control Act, 2005 in Bangladesh, no person can smoke in any public place and on public transport. Any person who violates this provision shall be liable to a fine not exceeding three hundred taka and if such a person commits the same offence for the second time or repeatedly, he shall be punishable at the rate of double that penalty in phases. Unfortunately, the law is far from being enforced.

We can, with a determined effort, put up strong resistance against smoking. This can start at the individual, family, society, neighbourhood, mahalla levels.  Those who are in the administration have to act first and enforce the toughest laws to stop smoking. NGOs, electronics and print media need to directly educate the public about the ill effects of smoking, including advertisements, dramas, movies and articles.

Especially if the police administration can exercise its power properly, it will be easier to stop smoking. Even good results are expected if people in charge of mosques, temples, pagodas or all kinds of religious places preach about the evils of smoking.

Md. Arafat Rahman is with Career & Professional Development Services Department, Southeast University.

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