Every year, the World Health Organization observes World No Tobacco Day on May 31. For 2018, the focus is on the impact that tobacco has on the cardiovascular health of people worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use is an important risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. BUT most people don’t know that.
Here are some key facts, taken from the World Health Organization’s website at www.who.int
- Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
- Tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year. More than 6 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Around 80% of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.
- There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.
- In adults, second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In infants, it causes sudden death. In pregnant women, it causes low birth weight.
- Almost half of children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke in public places.
- Second-hand smoke causes more than 890,000 premature deaths per year.
- In 2004, children accounted for 28% of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke.
While tobacco does significantly impact your health, there are still benefits both short-term and long-term if you quit. Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. In 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal. In 2 – 12 weeks, your circulation will improve, as well as an increase in lung function. In 1 – 9 months, you will experience a decrease in coughing and shortness or breath. In 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is about half of that of a smoker’s. In 5 years, your risk of a stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker (within 5 – 15 years after quitting). In 10 years, your risk of lung cancer will fall to about half that of a smoker; your risk of other cancers (mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, pancreas) also decreases. In 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s. Quitting will also decrease the excess risk of diseases related to second-hand smoke in children, such as asthma and ear infections.
Studies show that few people understand the specific health risks of tobacco use! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use is started and established primarily during adolescence, as you will see in the video below. Since many teens may not know the short-term and long-term effects that tobacco has on their body, make sure you communicate how serious and addictive smoking is.