Youth Media and Communication Initiative (YMCI)
Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders



Press Statements


Press Release: October 5,2007

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 Programs.

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 years 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 addiction:

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 people.

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 young people.

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.



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