Unfortunately for global health outcomes, tobacco product use begins and is primarily established during adolescent years.
Today, on World No Tobacco Day, I invite you to join me in amplifying the World Health Organization commitment to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use in all forms, second-hand smoke exposure, alongside this years 2022 global campaign ‘Tobacco: Threat to our environment’.
Tobacco has major implications for the health and wellbeing of smokers, non-smokers, and our environment. The industry’s effort to youthfully modernise tobacco use, to the greenwash marketing of its reputation by falsely advertising as environmentally friendly, is detrimental to our rising generation.
Infants exposed in-utero to tobacco smoke toxins, through maternal smoking or maternal exposure to second-hand smoke, frequently experience reduced lung growth and function – with an estimated 60,000 children dying before the age of 5.
Teenagers exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of the onset and exacerbation of asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis, and frequent lower respiratory infections. Those who live on into adulthood continue to suffer the health consequences of exposure.
At my Wellbeing Foundation Africa, we prioritise facilitating ‘taboo’ conversations between our frontline staff, midwives and adolescents early on during our Adolescent PSHE WASH program, creating inclusive safe spaces where they are empowered to build their autonomy to address topics like tobacco and substance abuse with their peers, families and communities – extending the effects and learnings beyond the program.
WBFA responds to the tobacco epidemic through not only education and advocacy, but by the full organisational implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and by adopting the MPOWER measures in our own policy development.
Lung and environmental health is essential to achieving overall health and wellbeing. In order to achieve the SDG targets of a one-third reduction in NCD premature mortality, and to protect the planet from degradation by 2030, tobacco control and elimination must be prioritised by all.