Information supplied by National Narcotics Bureau
A past survey done in selected Schools in National Capital District indicated the following grim statistics:
· 31.3% of students have tried smoking
· 14.8% of students in NCD smoke regularly
· The most-common age of initiation is 12-13 years.
· Peer pressure and desire for experimentation are two important factors for initiation.
· Students are exposed to environmental smoke both in their homes and in public places
· Half of the students were taught at school the dangers of smoking
Equally alarming, statistics available from the Health Department indicate the fact that hundreds of persons who have never smoked, die each year from diseases caused by breathing second-hand tobacco smoke.
The collateral damage is equally alarming.
Cigarette smoke contains thousands of identified chemicals, at least 250 of which are known to be carcinogenic or otherwise toxic.
Among those chemicals and toxins are the deadly, odourless, colourless gas - carbon monoxide, increased levels of acetaldehyde, acrolein, formaldehyde and many other substances.
When inhaled, these poisons are concentrated and quickly spread throughout the body, leading to a range of serious diseases which can affect both adults and young people. Young people are particularly vulnerable to respiratory infections, asthma and middle ear infections.
We have made considerable advances in socio-economic development and yet we continue to live in ignorance of the dangerous consequences of Tobacco.
To this end, the National Narcotics Bureau has been over the years requesting the National Government for funding support to implement such policies, but to date nothing tangible has transpired.
We are now working on a submission to be submitted to the National Planning Department to carry out a nationwide drug abuse survey (including tobacco).
We have to act in a responsible way, both at the individual, family and collective level.
World No Tobacco Day 2010 is a challenge for re-assessing our attitude to smoking and to smokers.
This special day is also an opportunity for smokers to think seriously about giving up; and for non-smokers to strengthen their determination to stay non-smokers.
This day marks a useful time for us as a nation to raise awareness about the dangers associated with tobacco products in order to help people get accurate information, remove the disguise and unveil the truth behind these products.
And it is very important that people, especially our youth population, start speaking up for themselves and assert their rights to health and clean air, for themselves and for their families.
Everybody must be warned that nicotine is a highly-addictive substance and adolescent experimentation can easily lead to a lifetime of tobacco dependence.
We all now recognise smoking for what it is; an addiction. Substances like tobacco, alcohol or other dangerous drugs bring down our ability to do our best and progress in life.
Let us all, on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 2010, begin with a personal commitment not to smoke out the health and happiness of those who are close to us.