YMCI CELEBRATES WORLD NO-TOBACCO DAY
Press Release: October 5,2007
LETÒS CREATE A SMOKE-FREE
ENVIRONMENT FOR OUR CHILDREN
May 31 was World No-Tobacco Day. YMCI joined the rest of the world in
calling for a smoke-free environment for children. Below is a statement
issued on behalf of YMCI by Iyobosa
Rex Uwugiaren, Director of
The Youth Media & Communication Initiative (YMCI) deems it necessary to call
the attention of the government to the need to have a clear anti-tobacco
policy and guideline, particularly as it affects children and youth.
The tobacco epidemic warrants immediate attention. The theme of this yearÒs
celebration is: SMOKE-FREE
ENVIRONMENTS. It is not just smokers who suffer the harmful effect of
tobacco. The world is now aware of the problems faced by not only smokers
but also the people who inhale the smoke.
Tobacco is a true addiction. According to the World Health Organisation
(WHO) tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world. Tobacco kills
50% of every young person who starts smoking early and keeps it up. Half of
that 50% will die in middle age, losing an average of 22 years of normal
life expectancy. Typically, when teenagers begin to smoke, they don't
realize that nicotine is addictive. As they pass through the 4 predictable
stages of addiction Preparation,
Experimentation, Smoking regularly and Nicotine
addiction) it takes them less than a year to progress to full-scale
Is addiction too strong a term? Isn't smoking just a bad habit that can be
broken without too much effort? To
the contrary! In 1988 the US
Surgeon General concluded that tobacco is addicting and that the physical
and psychological symptoms of nicotine are "similar
to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine." Nicotine's
effects on the brain are similar to those of heroin, amphetamine and
cocaine. In ranking addictive drugs, nicotine was determined to be even more
addictive than heroin, cocaine, alcohol, caffeine, and marijuana.
Tobacco use among young people is on the rise in many countries throughout
the world and Nigeria is no exception. Everyday,
while thousands of young people experiment with a cigarette for the first
time, nearly 10,000 people
around the globe die as a result of tobacco use. The age at which a young
person tries his or her first cigarette is dropping, with the majority of
smokers beginning in their teenage years.
Today, tobacco kills roughly 3.5 million people each year. Despite warnings
about the dangers of tobacco and startling statistics about the serious
health problems caused by tobacco, its use continues to increase among young
Unfortunately, there is not one simple answer for this problem. Adolescence
is characterized by a feeling of invincibility and a sense of curiosity.
Young people experiment with different behaviors without giving thought to
the long-term consequences of their actions. Many adolescents underestimate
the addictiveness of nicotine and its serious health risks. While parents
and teachers may tell 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds that smoking can cause
cancer and could kill them by the time they are in their 50s, cancer doesn't
mean much to a young person, and living until 50 sounds like they would have
had a very long life.
While these factors influence young people to use tobacco, undoubtedly the
most significant persuading factor in the increasing number of young tobacco
users worldwide is tobacco advertising. It effectively influences teenagers
to start using tobacco, and it encourages them to continue. In many tobacco
ads, smoking is portrayed as classy and glamorous, and smokers appear to be
mature and popular.
Tobacco advertising often feeds on the fact that many teens look up to
actors, musicians and/or athletes. Smoking is perceived as an adult behavior
by young people, and teenagers often start smoking in order to appear more
mature. A sense of social acceptability and belonging typically is a
priority for young people. Peer pressure may drive a young person from
experimentation with tobacco to addiction.
The Youth Media & Communication Initiative believes that cessation and
anti-tobacco programs work. Working together, countries throughout the world
can defeat the tobacco epidemic and provide a tobacco-free world for our
We urge young people to take up antismoking campaigns in their families,
schools and neighbourhood and contribute to the effort to create a
smoke-free world, because only a concerted effort will succeed in making the
world tobacco free.