Say no to tobacco

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To mark last week’s World No Tobacco Day, held every year on May 31, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) urged all Australians to avoid all forms of tobacco, for the sake of their oral and general health, the health of others, and the health of the environment.

Established by the World Health Organisation (WHO), World No Tobacco Day aims to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco and to advocate for effective tobacco control policies to reduce tobacco consumption. This year, WHO chose the theme ‘Tobacco – a threat to development’.

Dr Hugo Sachs, ADA president, said: “While rates of smoking have fallen steadily in Australia, thanks in part to successful tobacco control measures, there is no room for complacency. In 2013, around 2.5 million Australians smoked daily. Three per cent of non-smokers over the age of 14 are exposed daily to the smoke of another household member, and in 3.7 per cent of Australian households with children aged under 14, these children are exposed to tobacco smoke inside the home.”

Over seven million people globally die from tobacco-related illnesses each year, and for every 10 deaths caused by smoking among smokers, one death also occurs in a non-smoker due to exposure to second hand smoke.

“Tobacco use is strongly linked to a wide range of diseases, including respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and cancer,” Dr Sachs said.

“It is very strongly associated with oral cancer, a highly aggressive disease which often goes undetected until it is at an advanced stage. Exposure to second hand smoke also affects the oral health of all age groups. For example, it increases the risk of tooth decay, and may also delay dental development in children.” 

But it isn’t only consumption of tobacco that creates public health problems. The process of growing and producing tobacco is itself a direct cause of many serious public health and environmental problems that affect smokers and non-smokers alike, particularly in developing nations. For instance, tobacco farming requires intensive pesticide and fertiliser use, which often causes toxic contamination of local water supplies.

“On World No Tobacco Day, protect your health, and the health of friends, family and children who may be exposed to your second hand smoke,” Dr Sachs urged.

“Quit the tobacco habit, or commit to never taking it up. You’ll also be doing your part to create a healthier, more environmentally sustainable world.”

Based on a media release sourced from the ADA.

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