31 May was World No Tobacco Day and the theme this year was ‘Get ready for plain packaging’. In fact, Australia became the first country to implement this policy in December 2012. Plain packaging refers to a “measure to restrict or prohibit the use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information on packaging other than brand names and product names displayed in a standard color and font style.” Between plain packaging and the attempts to raise taxation rates, the number of people using tobacco is slowly reducing.
Tobacco harms nearly every organ in your body and has a proven effect on a person’s overall health and wellness. The risks that are associated with smoking are immense. Smoking can cause mutations and deformations in unborn children, bone health deterioration the longer you smoke and immediately increase your risk of chronic disease. The same problems that arise from smoking can also occur because of exposure to second hand smoke.
Chronic diseases are the leading causes of illness, disability and death. In Australia alone, “a 2007-2008 National Health Survey indicated that one-third of the population (35%, or 7 million people) reported having at least one of the following chronic conditions: asthma, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, COPD, depression or high blood pressure.” The amount of people who suffer from one or more chronic illnesses increases as age increases; 70% of people 85 and over cope with five or more chronic diseases.
In 2011 chronic diseases were responsible for over 90% of deaths in Australia. Men and women who smoke are at around 50% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to men and women who do not smoke. Smoking also leads to higher abdominal fat, which can easily contribute to insulin resistance. The increased amount of fat on a human being coupled with tobacco usage immediately increases the risks for diabetes, heart problems, cancer and mental health issues. By quitting smoking, you can immediately start to decrease your risk of illness and chronic disease.
You do not have to be a daily smoker for long to develop chronic diseases as a byproduct of your smoking habits. When looking at the breakdown of how many people smoke and at what age group they are, you can see that 16.3% of 18-44 year olds smoked daily in 2015. The statistics vary slightly when looking at other countries but, there are two main factors that affect the demand for tobacco products regardless of what country you are looking at; an increase in price causes tobacco consumption to decrease while an increase in income leads to increase in tobacco consumption, particularly in low income settings.
The more tobacco price increases the fewer amounts of people who are smokers or addicted to smokeless tobacco are willing to buy it. Policies such as plain packaging and raising taxes on tobacco will decrease the amount of tobacco consumption. The amount of deaths that occur in Australia alone because of smoking or second hand smoke exposure is around 6 million people a year. Around 600,000 of the 6 million are casualties from second hand smoke.
There is no safe level of exposure. National smoke-free laws protect over 1.3 billion people. National No Tobacco Day remains an important date as it continues to draw attention to the largest public health concern around the globe.