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Monday, January 24, 2011

Tobacco suit- Lagos State, ERA challenge stay of proceedings

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Smoking youth sparks tanker fire

A youth smoking cigarette near two fuel tankers dispensing petrol in Abonnema Wharf, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, caused the burning of the tankers yesterday.
Residents of the area, who envisaged that the fire could spread, evacuated some of their property and family members.
People fighting a petrol tanker fire at Abonema Wharf in Port Harcourt, Rivers State ... yesterday. The fire was said to have been sparked by a cigarette. PHOTO: NAN
The state fire service battled to contain the inferno. One of the tankers was completely burnt.
A resident, who pleaded for anonymity, said some youths in the area are always extorting money from the tanker drivers, or force them to part with some fuel.
Two persons, who sustained injury, were rushed to the hospital.
Riot policemen and security agents were deployed in the area, to avoid a breakdown of law and order.
The Public Relations Officer of Pathfinder, Lt. Cmdr. Edward Yeibo, described the incident as unfortunate.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Smoke-free public places: Taking a cue from Spain

SIR: A New Year ushers in good tidings and new beginnings. For Spaniards, it was the beginning of a new era, as their government was ready to start the year on a “clean bill of health” and taking their health as top priority. On January 2, 2011, the Spanish government placed a complete ban on smoking in public places. These include bars, restaurants, casinos, workplaces, other enclosed public places and even outdoor areas such as playgrounds, hospital yards etc. Non-compliance with this ban attracts a fine of $40 and as high as $100,000 if caught three times.

Spain is not the first country to take the initiative of enacting a smoking ban to protect her citizens from the harmful effect of tobacco. Several other countries have done the same in the past, these include the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, France, Italy,  Australia, Finland, New Zealand, most states of the USA, Egypt, Uganda, to mention a few.

Safeguarding the health of the citizens is the responsibility of any people-oriented government. The ban of smoking in public places is one of the proven ways of controlling tobacco consumption and reducing tobacco-related diseases and deaths.

Over 167 countries are signatories to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which is a treaty with several articles aimed at achieving global tobacco control. Nigeria who ratified the FCTC guidelines in 2004 is presently yet to pass the tobacco control bill and also lacks a comprehensive tobacco control structure.

Smoke-free environment helps to de-normalise tobacco smoking, protects non-smokers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and helps current smokers to consider quitting. Consequently, individuals, government and insurance companies would spend less income treating tobacco-related diseases. The products of the tobacco industry are generally known and even self-acclaimed to be addictive and injurious to one’s health, causing several health conditions. In simple terms, the tobacco industry is a threat to the health sector of any country. Therefore, a comprehensive tobacco control structure should be put in place to control tobacco consumption in Nigeria.

Arguments such as unemployment that could result from the enactment of smoke-free public places legislation are largely baseless. This is because it’s been widely reported that enforcement of this ban in other countries has shown no negative economic impact and in fact, some economic gains were noted in the long term. Conversely, such countries have experienced a significant drop in the smoking population and an evidence-based improvement in the health of the citizens.

As a nation, our true asset is our health and this should be guarded jealously. Let’s prevail on the National Assembly to pass the Nigeria National Tobacco Control Bill before the expiration of this current dispensation.  It’s a new year and we could take a cue from Spain!

Monday, January 17, 2011

‘How smoking causes instant gene damage’

A STUDY by United States (U.S.) scientists has shown how cigarette smoking within minutes causes genetic damage linked to cancer.

The Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted researchers as saying that the “effect is so fast that it’s equivalent to injecting the substance directly into the bloodstream.”

The study is the first on humans to track how substances in tobacco cause deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) damage, and appears in the peer-reviewed journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, issued by the American Chemical Society.

Using 12 volunteer smokers, scientists tracked pollutants called PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that are carried in tobacco smoke and can also be found in coal-burning plants and in charred barbecue food.

They followed one particular type – phenanthrene, which is found in cigarette smoke – through the blood and saw it form a toxic substance that is known to “trash DNA, causing mutations that can cause cancer,” the study said.

“The smokers developed maximum levels of the substance in a time frame that surprised even the researchers: just 15-30 minutes after the volunteers finished smoking,” the study said.

“These results are significant because PAH diol epoxides react readily with DNA, induce mutations, and are considered to be ultimate carcinogens of multiple PAH in cigarette smoke,” the study said.

Lead scientist, Stephen Hecht, said the study is unique because it examines the effects of inhaling cigarette smoke, without interference from other sources of harm such as pollution or a poor diet.

“The results reported here should serve as a stark warning to those who are considering starting to smoke cigarettes,” Hecht said.

Lung cancer kills about 3,000 people around the world each day, and 90 per cent of those deaths are attributable to cigarette smoking.

The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute.