The Effect Of Smoking On Young Adults In Northern Nigeria
Tobacco use is the most important preventable cause of premature death and major risk factor for non-communicable diseases. Due to strict tobacco legislation in the western hemisphere, many African nations like Nigeria have shifted from being a tobacco-producing nation to a tobacco-consuming one. This study is on tobacco use among Nigerian adolescents and young people and to identify the prevalence, distribution and factors influencing of tobacco smoking. These data are necessary to formulate and adapt control measures aimed at tobacco cessation among young people, and preventing long-term smoking behaviors.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that tobacco kills nearly seven million people annually and 100 million deaths were recorded over the course of the 20th century. More than six million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while close to 900,000 deaths are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030. Close to 80percent of world’s one billion smokers live in low to middle income countries like Nigeria. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) already account for more than 80 percent of premature deaths in developing countries and the single largest preventable risk factor for NCDs is tobacco smoking. While the global burden of NCDs is estimated to rise by 17 percent in the next decade, it is expected that a sharp increase of 27 percent would be experienced in the Africa region. Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa with a large population of adolescents and young people, which affects health indices across the region.
The transition of tobacco hubs from the West to the African continent is of paramount importance, and Nigeria lies at the forefront of the shift from a tobacco-producing to a tobacco-consuming nation. Between 1990 and 2009, cigarette consumption decreased by about 26 percent in western Europe while there was almost a 60 percent increase in tobacco consumption in Africa and Middle Eastern countries. As such, Africa has become a prime target for tobacco companies. Tobacco regulation has been tightened in North America and Europe in contrast to the African region where some countries are either yet to implement tobacco laws or are more susceptible to being influenced by the tobacco lobby groups that see the continent as a vast area for growth. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), was adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly on May 21, 2003, and implemented on February 27, 2005. In this treaty, WHO recommends a four-pronged strategy for the control of smoking.
The first prong advocates a ban on all forms of advertising and an increase in public health information with special attention to youths. The Nigeria National Tobacco Control Act of 2015, was passed to domesticate the WHO FCTC; however, implementation has been poor as most public places are yet to be smoke free, and no funds have been dedicated for tobacco law enforcement. Most smokers begin smoking during their adolescent years, and they grow into the habit making nicotine addiction difficult to curb. As these adolescents become adults, they serve as role models to youths, reinforcing a vicious cycle.
The health consequences of tobacco smoking depend on the duration and quantity of the smoking behavior. Starting to smoke early in life increases the risk of NCDs, and adolescent smokers are at greatest risk of future morbidity and mortality. Half of adolescent smokers become regular smoking adults, and a further half of this population is expected to die of tobacco-associated illnesses, further highlighting the great burden smoking in young people poses and the need to end this habit. The crucial role young people play in the perpetuation of smoking is not lost on the tobacco industry.
Evidence shows a large percentage of their advertising dollars is now spent to encourage young people to smoke, with more than nine billion dollars directed towards this goal every year. Approximately 40 percent of Hollywood movies and movies rated for young people depict scenes of smoking, highlighting the shift from obvious tobacco advertisements to more subliminal and harder to regulate spheres.
In conclusion, Nigeria has a comprehensive national policy for tobacco control which was formulated a decade after ratification of the FCTC due to constraints of funding and conflict of interest. Not all the tobacco control policies in Nigeria engrain the principles of multisectorality and best buy strategies in their formulation. There is an urgent need to address these neglected areas that may hamper tobacco control efforts in Nigeria.Overall, this policy analysis provides useful assessment of the national government’s response to the adoption of global declarations and guidelines on tobacco control policy formulation and highlights areas needing attention.
The findings of this study are pertinent especially in view of the resolve of the current government administration to strengthen tobacco control in Nigeria. Hence, findings could guide government and non-governmental organisations involved in policy making by drawing attention to issues needing major attention and to implement tobacco laws by law enforcement as well as control policies.
Writer: Danladi Dantarason David