6 million people die each year from using tobacco, and more than 600,000 people die each year from exposure to second-hand smoke.
Tobacco use is still endemic and the list of conditions caused by its consumption continues to grow. Along with being linked to 90% of lung cancers, it now includes conditions such as acute myeloid leukemia, kidney cancer, cervical cancer and many more, and is the single, greatest preventable cause of death in the world today.
This year, World #NoTobacco Day is highlighting the importance of implementing strong governmental tobacco control measures in order to safeguard future generations.
Healthcare professionals can play a vital role in battling the tobacco epidemic by ensuring the success of these measures. In the eyes of their patients, they are a trusted source of knowledge for all health matters, and, therefore, should not only actively engage in political campaigns that promote smoking cessation, but, due to their expertise, they should be at the forefront of governmental tobacco control efforts, such as tax increase campaigns and other tobacco control plans.
Furthermore, it is fundamental that health professionals continue to increase efforts to help to raise awareness about the immediate and longer-term risks of tobacco, and remind patients of any age that quitting smoking results in longevity of life. As the number of years since cessation increases, the relative risk of death decreases, especially individuals who quit before the age of 35. In addition, all healthcare professionals should have the knowledge and connections to be able to recommend cessation strategies developed by the government, and refer patients to the most suitable resources, depending on their situation.
It takes health-care providers less than five minutes to provide this brief assessment and advice to all their patients, and could potentially have a major impact on people’s lives, leading to a reduction in the use of tobacco and, consequently, preventable deaths.