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Tobacco kills millions
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Tobacco in any form is deadly, which is why health professionals urge you to make World No Tobacco Day count by educating yourself and everyone around you on the dangers of this substance.
The use of tobacco — especially forms used for smoking — doesn’t harm just the user. It affects everyone within breathing distance, has destructive effects on unborn children and adversely impacts family and loved ones of tobacco users.
The economic costs of tobacco are equally devastating. In addition to the high health costs of treating tobacco-caused diseases, tobacco kills people at the height of their productivity, depriving families of breadwinners and nations of a healthy workforce.
Tobacco use is a major preventable cause of premature death and of several diseases worldwide. In addition to cancer and cardiovascular disease, cigarette, pipe, cigar and other traditional forms of tobacco have several effects in the mouth. Tobacco is a risk factor for oral cancer, oral cancer recurrence, adult periodontal diseases and congenital defects such as cleft lip and palate in children.
The second major cause of death in the world, tobacco is currently responsible for the death of one in 10 adults worldwide or about 5 million deaths each year. If current smoking patterns continue, tobacco will cause some 10 million deaths by the year 2020.
Tobacco is the fourth most common risk factor for disease worldwide.
Many of the ingredients found in tobacco can be found in products on the shelves of your garage, such as pesticides, toxins and poisons. Would you smoke those? When you are around someone smoking you are inhaling second-hand smoke which consists of:
• mainstream smoke, the smoke inhaled and exhaled by the smoker, and
• side-stream smoke, the smoke released directly from the end of a burning cigarette. Two-thirds of the smoke from a burning cigarette is not inhaled by the smoker but enters the surrounding environment. The contaminated air is inhaled by anyone in that area.
A non-smoker breathing second-hand smoke can be exposed to 4,000 different chemicals, 50 of which are associated with or known to cause cancer. Second-hand smoke has twice as much nicotine and tar as the smoke that smokers inhale. It also has five times the carbon monoxide which decreases the amount of oxygen in your blood. Exposure to second-hand smoke for as little as eight to 20 minutes can cause physical reactions linked to heart and stroke disease. That means:
1. the heart rate increases
2. the heart’s oxygen supply decreases, and
3. blood vessels constrict which increases blood pressure and makes the heart work harder than it normally does.
Prolonged and repeated exposure to second-hand smoke means that you, your family and friends are more likely to develop one or more of the second-hand smoke diseases, some of which are fatal:
• Lung cancer
• Heart disease
• Asthma
• Reduced lung function
• Bronchitis
• Middle ear infections
• Pneumonia
• Croup
• Sore throats
So much more is known about tobacco than what I’ve listed. Please take a moment Thursday on World No Tobacco Day and learn more about a substance that can have fatal consequences for you and your family. If you smoke, stop. And, when possible, use your influence to help others quit.

Ratcliffe works with the Coastal Health District.
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