Tobacco use poses a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer, and over 20 other diseases. It contains nicotine, which can lead to addiction, making it difficult for many tobacco users to quit. The tobacco epidemic is one of the most significant public health threats globally, resulting in over 8 million deaths annually. Out of these, more than 7 million are attributed to direct tobacco use, while approximately 1.3 million result from non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. All forms of tobacco use are harmful, with no safe level of exposure. Cigarette smoking, in particular, is the most common form of tobacco use worldwide.
Tobacco products, including cigarettes and cigars, are responsible for almost nine out of every ten cases of lung cancer. However, tobacco use can lead to cancer in various parts of the body, including the bladder, blood (acute myeloid leukaemia), cervix, colon and rectum, oesophagus, kidney and renal pelvis, liver, lungs, bronchi, and trachea, mouth and throat, pancreas, stomach, and voice box (larynx). Cigarettes contain a multitude of toxic chemicals, including nicotine and cadmium from the tobacco plant itself. Others are formed during the curing and manufacturing of cigarettes, while additional harmful substances like benzene and carbon monoxide are produced when tobacco is burned, such as when lighting a cigarette. In total, the act of smoking a cigarette releases around 7,000 chemicals, with approximately 70 of them linked to cancer. Inhaling cigarette smoke draws these chemicals into the mouth or nose and down the windpipe.
To avoid health risks from cancer, the most critical steps are to refrain from starting tobacco use if you don’t already, and if you are a tobacco user, it’s imperative to quit. No matter the duration of tobacco use, quitting can substantially reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
HAFSA AKHTAR MEHMOOD,