SOME of the long-standing side effects of smoking tobacco include increased danger of stroke and brain damage, eye cataracts, macular degeneration and yellowing of whites of eyes.
Other side effects are loss of sense of smell and taste, yellow teeth, tooth decay and bad breath, cancer of the nose, lip, tongue and mouth.
Carbon monoxide in cigarettes is said to reduce the amount of oxygen available to the muscles, brain and blood.
Consequently this means the whole body—especially the heart—must work harder and this over time working causes airways to narrow and blood pressure to rise, which can lead to heart attack and stroke, including death.
As if this not moldy enough, there is also another issue of passive smoking occurs when a person who is not smoking breathes in the smoke from those who are smoking.
Medical experts have revealed that passive smoking can irritate the eyes and nose and cause a number of health problems such as heart disease and lung cancer. Tobacco smoke is especially detrimental to babies and young children.
But big tobacco industries cannot be fretted because they are making billions of dollars in profits and that is all what matters to them.
Many Zambian workers employed by these tobacco firms are not aware of a host of health challenges they face even when picking the crop before processing.
These include what is known as green leaf fever in which culprits may end up with serious vomiting and in some cases women lose their pregnancies after handling green tobacco.
It is also one of the vices that our youths in Zambia have taken too in a big way, ostensibly to pass time due to lack of jobs. Sure?
But whatever the case, the stark verity is that tobacco is a killer crop which Zambia must stop growing because of its serious health challenges it poses.
So the news that tobacco has killed 7,000 Zambians in the past years following a survey conducted by the ministry of health is a serious wake up call for Zambia to rethink seriously about growing tobacco, especially that the country has lamentably failed to put in measures to control its consumption as demanded by the World Health Organization (WHO).
To be specific, 7, 142 Zambians have died because of taking different forms of tobacco in one way or the other must be depressing to all concerned stakeholders.
The same survey has also revealed that about 7.8 percent of women in Zambia are now using other forms of tobacco products especially snuff.
National Tobacco Control Focal Point Person of the Ministry of Health, John Mayeya says that the rising trend in tobacco consumption and tobacco related deaths at global, regional and country level necessitated the World Health Organization (WHO) members and the UN family to develop a tobacco control programme.
Mr. Mayeya was speaking in Lusaka recently at a symposium on progress made towards domestication the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which was sponsored by Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD).
“We are not aspiring to stop tobacco growing or trade. Our main objective is to protect public health and the future generation,” he said.
He further said that tobacco control required an institutional multi-sectoral approach and that farmers ought to be assisted with loans to enable them farm in other products.
At the same function Centre for Advocacy and Research on Tobacco Control in Zambia (CARTOCOZA) lead researcher Chris Zimba said that 80 percent of people dying of tobacco products come from middle income countries like Zambia.
Mr. Zimba said that tobacco has been labeled as an epidemic at global level to the extent that it needed the attention of each and every country.
He said that tobacco led deaths deprive global development as well as income at family level as it mostly kill income owners.
And CTPD executive director Isaac Mwaipopo commended and thanked concerted efforts of all institutions and individuals that were working tirelessly to ensure that tobacco is controlled.
The reality is tobacco is harmful to people’s health because it causes cancers, heart and lung diseases and other serious health problems, too.