Today’s Editorial: Put down that fag

If you’re enjoying a cup of coffee and sucking on a cigarette while reading this morning’s paper, please snuff the fag.

It will be a good way to begin getting prepared for tomorrow – World No Tobacco Day.

It’s a day the World Health Organization has set aside to encourage tobacco users to put down the habit for at least 24 hours and begin seriously considering quitting.

And it’s not just aimed at cigarette smokers – dippers are also included.

If a day set aside won’t convince you of the drastic need to put down tobacco, consider the facts.

Tobacco is the second major cause of death is the world. One in 10 adults – about 5 million a year – dies because of either first-hand or second-hand tobacco use.

The WHO reports that if smoking patterns continue, there will be 10 million deaths a year by 2020.

Tobacco is the fourth most common risk factor for disease worldwide.

In addition to mortality figures, the global economic costs are staggering. There is a high public health cost associated with treating tobacco-caused diseases.

Too, tobacco kills people, depriving families of breadwinners and a healthy workforce. The latest report, in 1994, shows tobacco use caused an annual global net loss of US$20,000 million with a third of the loss being in developing countries.

In poor countries, tobacco leads to malnutrition, increased health costs and premature deaths because smokers and dippers spend the money on the habit.

If the statistics don’t convince smokers to stop, maybe the reality of tobacco’s effects will.

Think about the sons and daughters who watch as their father or mother, strapped to a ventilator, struggles for each breath as they slowly die from emphysema.

Think of the husband or wife who watches as their spouse slips away from life because of the ravages of lung cancer.

Think of those people standing by the bedsides of their loved ones, watching as they catch their last earthly breaths.

Think of the loss and total heartache that is left behind with the knowledge that if the smoker had quit earlier in life they might be able to spend more time with their families.

Death brought on by smoking is about as senseless as death brought on by drunk driving. One is just a little faster than the other.

Watching a loved one struggle to breathe as they do day-to-day activities and then watching them slowly die in a sterile hospital, all because they were smokers, is something no child or spouse should ever have to experience.

If you are a tobacco user, please quit now; if not for yourself, then for your family. Let them have your healthy self by their side for as long as possible.

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