Stillwater News Press

Health & Environment

May 31, 2014

Live Well 06-01-14

Tobacco use one of biggest killers on the planet

Saturday was World No Tobacco Day – a day observed around the world on May 31. The intention of this day is to observe a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco across the globe.

World No Tobacco Day also is anticipated to draw global attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and the negative health effects associated with its use.

According to the World Health Organization, the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke. If trends continue, the epidemic will kill more than 8 million people every year by 2030. More than 80 percent of these preventable deaths will be among people living in low-and middle-income countries.

Each individual can make the decision to abstain from tobacco or to quit using an effective cessation method such as the helpline — 1-800-QUIT-NOW. In addition to individuals quitting, we can also make social, environmental and economic decisions to reduce tobacco consumption and prevent youth initiation. It is often overwhelming to look at a problem as big as tobacco use globally. The problem is huge, the amount of people dying from it is staggering, and the tobacco industry often seems indestructible. But we can do something about tobacco use in Oklahoma, in Payne County and even in Stillwater.

One thing Stillwater can do to limit tobacco consumption and prevent youth initiation is to adopt an ordinance that prohibits smoking indoors and outdoors on all city owned/operated properties — which would also mean city parks. We know that 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 lunch cancer. In infants, it can cause sudden death. In pregnant women, it causes low birth weight.

• Almost half of children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke in public places.

• Over 40 percent of children have at least one smoking parent.

• In 2004, children accounted for 28 percent of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke.

Smoke-free laws should be in city-owned/operated places like parks and youth athletic fields to protect our kids. Every person has the right to breathe tobacco-smoke-free air. Smoke-free laws protect the health of non-smokers, are popular, do not harm business and encourage smokers to quit.

Let’s do our part in making Stillwater, Payne County and all of Oklahoma a healthy place to live, work and play.

Choose today to live a full, healthy life. Choose to live well.

Becky Taylor is a prevention specialist with Oklahoma State University Prevention Programs.

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