31 May is the world Tobacco day. Governments and organizations mark this day to boost awareness in the people against the dangers of smoking and tobacco consumption.Since the discovery of tobacco in the American continent in approximately1492, the epidemic of smoking has spread continually around the world. Even today, smoking is the largest addiction of the globe. There are an estimated 1.3 billion smokers. About a third of the male adult global population smokes. About 15 billion cigarettes are sold daily - or 10 million every minute. Among young teens, about one in five smokes worldwide. Between 80,000 and 100,000 children worldwide start smoking every day - roughly half of whom live in Asia. Among the Western Pacific Region - which covers East Asia and the Pacific - has the highest smoking rate, with nearly two-thirds of men smoking. About one in three cigarettes are consumed in the Western Pacific Region. The Western Pacific has one third of the world's smokers, the highest rate of male smokers and the fastest increase of smoking among children and young women. One-quarter of adults in UK smokes. Smokers puff their way through 77 billion cigarettes annually. Almost one-third of girls aged 15 and 16 smoke. People in the 20 to 24 age group smoke the most – 38 per cent of men and 34 per cent of women.
Smoking is the single biggest preventable cause of death. Half of long-term smokers will die from tobacco. Every cigarette smoked cuts at least five minutes of life on average - about the time taken to smoke it. Every seven seconds, someone dies from tobacco use. Tobacco claims 4.9 million lives a year, and if the present consumption patterns continue, the number of deaths will increase by 2020 to 10 million, 70% of which will occur in developing countries. There are an estimated 1.3 billion smokers and half of them (some 650 million) are expected to die prematurely of a tobacco-related disease. Smoking related-diseases kill one in 10 adults globally, or cause four million deaths. By 2030, if current trends continue, smoking will kill one in six people.
Tobacco kills more than 3000 people each day in the Western Pacific Region. Smoking is among the leading causes of death and disease in the area. About a quarter of youth alive in the region will die from smoking. About 12 times more British people have died from smoking than from World War II. Cigarettes cause more than one in five American deaths.
Tobacco is an addictive plant containing nicotine, many carcinogens and other toxins. When transformed into products designed to deliver nicotine efficiently, its toxic effects, responsible for causing many diseases, are often magnified because the process of increasing exposure to nicotine often results in increases in exposure to many poisons in the products. While, cigarettes comprise of many poisonous ingredients of which nicotine is not the only poisonous ingredient, but includes other ingredients which are more dangerous than nicotine. From amongst its poisonous ingredients are:
- Carbon monoxide: its bad effect is well-known.
- Poisonous lead which accumulates and the body fails to break it up.
- Nicotine: This is so poisonous that a mere 50 mg of it can kill a person if injected into the arteries.
- Radio-active polonium, which settles in the lungs of the smoker and doesn't separate from it.
- Tar: a sticky yellowish substance which makes the teeth yellow, causes tooth decay and inflammation of the gums. This is one of the most harmful ingredients.
- Arsenic: This is used as an insecticide, 10% of which settles on the lung.
- Spirits and flavouring: which are added by manufacturers to keep the tobacco moist
- Benzene vapour: This plays a great role in lung cancer.
Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death. It is a prime factor in heart disease, stroke and chronic lung disease. It can cause cancer of the lungs, larynx, oesophagus, mouth, and bladder, and contributes to cancer of the cervix, pancreas, and kidneys. At least a quarter of all deaths from heart diseases and about three-quarters of world's chronic bronchitis are related to smoking.
In addition to the high public 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 users are also less productive due to increased sickness. A 1994 report estimated that the use of tobacco resulted in an annual global net loss of US$ 200 billion, a third of this loss being in developing countries.
Our country India is home to over 250 million tobacco users and smokers. Smoking is on the rise in the developing world, tobacco consumption is rising by 3.4% per year in developing countries. At the current rate, the number of smokers will rise from today's 1.3 billion to 1.7 billion by 2025. In India, more than 900,000 people succumb to tobacco-related diseases every year. Researchers calculated that almost 200,000 people a year throughout India die from TB because they smoked; half of the smokers killed by TB are in their early 50s or younger. Among men aged 35-69 in India, smoking causes about half of TB deaths and about a quarter of all deaths. India may lose 2.5 million people a year by 2025 due to growing tobacco consumption that will prove to be a great hurdle to the country's economic growth, experts have warned.
The dealers in death
Three of the world's five biggest tobacco firms are British and make £2.9bn in pre-tax profits. The tobacco market is controlled by just a few corporations - namely American, British and Japanese multinational conglomerates. US-based multinational Philip Morris, the world's biggest cigarette company, was the world's ninth largest advertiser in 1996, spending more than $3 billion. By advertisements, the tobacco firms try to link smoking with athletic prowess, sexual attractiveness, success, adult sophistication, adventure and self-fulfilment. Studies show teenagers are heavily influenced by tobacco advertising. The youngsters are taking to tobacco as a 'hobby' while smoking has become a lifestyle statement.
Though, realizing the dangers of smoking the government has ordained Laws to discourage smoking and even today it continues taking tobacco control measures, like bans on direct and indirect tobacco advertising, tobacco tax and price increases, smoke-free environments in all public and workplaces, but this very little head is paid to it. The cigarette packets and products carry a tiny message, somewhere at the corner, that smoking is injurious to health, but who cares?
Islamic Stand on Smoking
Addiction to whatever habit is undesirable and disliked. It is a kind of slavery that one imposes upon oneself. The smokers when they do not have their daily dose go crank. Smoking is no doubt prohibited and discouraged in Islam for many reasons. In view of the vivid hazards of health that tobacco has, it is tantamount to taking slow poison. The Glorious Quran says, " Do not cast yourselves, with your own hands, into destruction.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:195); "...nor kill yourselves..." (Surah al-Nisaa 4:29). Though, smoking is not exactly like committing suicide but one should fear that it resembles to it. Suicide is a major sin, in a Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Whosoever drinks poison, thereby killing himself, will sip this poison forever and ever in the fire of Hell."
Apart from the health effects, smoking is a source of wasting one’s wealth. It is also resented by Islam. Allah says, "But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the devils.” (Surah al-Israa’ 17:26-27) In another Hadith the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that: "Allah hates for you three things: gossiping, begging (while being able to work and earn), and wasting money."
WHO-WPRO-The facts about smoking and health.htm 30 May 2006
WHO-WPRO-Smoking Statistics.htm 28 May 2002
India eNews (in), 2006-05-31: Tobacco consumption by youths hampers economic growth
AP Health News - Statistics on TB and Smoking in India.htm AUGUST 16, 2003
Muhammadullah Khalili Qasmi can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org