Legislation should adopt tobacco laws in the country
A man smokes a marijuana cigarette outside the Cape Town high court in support of a court application to decriminalize marijuana in December 2015. (Photo: AFP/RODGER BOSCH)
By Oyiti Pernyang
The culture of smoking cigarettes in public premises in South Sudan is a normal one, yet in other Countries, smoking in public is regarded as an offence and it is punishable by law, in countries like Kenya, smoking zones are created for the smokers to settle their smoking crave, which is not the case in South Sudan, here smokers just pick their lighter, cigarette and light it anywhere whenever they craves for a puff. Women carry their “shisha” along with them to their homes and start exhaling clouds of smoke beside their little ones forcing them to be passive smokers.
About half of South Sudanese youths and teenagers ages between 11 and 35 years are smoking tobacco not to mention the elderly ones, when asked why they indulge themselves in the practice, most of them claimed to be stressed and that smoking helps them to relieve stress. These young people are involved in smoking habit through peer pressure, or simply because they are trying to imitate their mentors, or perhaps there are no laws that regulates smoking in the country. It’s actually very absurd to see people smoke in public premises like in the Church, taxi parks restaurants, hospitals, the craziest part are the students smoking together with their teachers in the school premises, this is anomalous habit but it’s seen as normal in South Sudan. In some sense these young people for real emulate the habit from their mentors who walks about on the roads and public premises with cigarettes in their hands, and this happens because there are no tobacco laws in the country.
According to Mayo clinic’s health experts’ website, Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco that keeps you smoking. Nicotine is very addictive when delivered by inhaling tobacco smoke into the lungs, which quickly releases nicotine into the blood, allowing it to get into the brain within seconds of taking a puff. In the brain nicotine increases the release of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which help regulate mood and behavior. Dopamine, one of these neurotransmitters, is released in the “reward center” of the brain and causes improved mood and feelings of pleasure. Experiencing these effects from nicotine is what makes tobacco so addictive. Nicotine dependence involves behavioral (routines, habits, feelings) as well as physical factors. These behavioral associations with smoking may act as triggers situations or feelings that activate a craving for tobacco, even if you have not smoked for some time. Tobacco smoke contains more than 60 known cancer-causing chemicals and thousands of other harmful substances. Even “all natural” or herbal cigarettes have chemicals that are harmful to your health. Smoking harms almost every organ of your body and impairs your body’s immune system. About half of all regular smokers will die of a disease caused by tobacco. Women smokers are now at equal risk to men smokers of dying from lung cancer, COPD and cardiovascular disease caused by using tobacco. The negative health effects include: Lung cancer and other lung diseases. Smoking causes nearly nine out of 10 lung cancer cases. In addition, smoking causes other lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also makes asthma worse. Smoking is a major cause of cancers of the esophagus, larynx, throat (pharynx) and mouth and is related to cancers of the bladder, pancreas, kidney and cervix, and some leukemia. Overall, smoking causes 30 percent of all cancer deaths. Smoking increases your risk of dying of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease, including heart attack and stroke. Even smoking just one to four cigarettes daily increases your risk of heart disease. If you have heart or blood vessel disease, such as heart failure, smoking worsens your condition. However, stopping smoking reduces your risk of having a heart attack by 50 percent in the first year. Smoking increases insulin resistance, which can set the stage for development of two types of diabetes. If you have diabetes, smoking can speed the progress of complications, such as kidney disease and eye problem. Smoking can increase your risk of serious eye problems such as cataracts and loss of eyesight from macular degeneration. Smoking increases the risk of reduced fertility in women and the risk of impotence in men. Mothers who smoke while pregnant face a higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, lower birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in their newborns. Smokers are more prone to respiratory infections, such as colds, flu and bronchitis. Smoking deadens your senses of taste and smell, so food isn’t as appetizing. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing inflammation of the gum (gingivitis) and a serious gum infection that can destroy the support system for teeth (periodontitis). The chemicals in tobacco smoke can change the structure of your skin, causing premature aging and wrinkles. Smoking also yellows your teeth, fingers and fingernails. Nonsmoking spouses and partners of smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease compared with people who don’t live with a smoker. If you smoke, your children will be more prone to SIDS, worsening asthma, ear infections and colds.
Since this is not only a health risk to the smokers alone, but also to non smokers, then it is therefore crucial for the authorities to introduce laws which bans the habit of smoking anyhow in public premises; here are some steps the Government can take to prevent future generations from nicotine addiction and the many diseases associated with smoking: Promote smoke-free environments. The legislation of the Country should come up with tough laws that make all workplaces smoke-free, to encourage smoke-free public places, including restaurants, bus parks and hospitals. The government should introduce community and school-based stop-smoking programs. The legislation should increase taxes on tobacco products. Higher prices discourage teens from starting to smoke. Higher prices on tobacco products, coupled with smoke-free workplace laws, are the most effective public health policies to reduce smoking in adults and prevent young people from ever starting. It’s the basic responsibility of the Government to adopt measures which will curb on health risk that its citizens are facing. Prevention is better than cure, and if the laws are put in place and implemented then the government must have save its posterity.