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Every year, on May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) encourages people to abstain from all tobacco products, including cigarettes. Around this day, known as World No Tobacco Day, WHO works to spread awareness of the dangers of regular tobacco usage. For this year’s theme, “Tobacco and Lung Health,” WHO will focus strongly on the correlation between tobacco use and poor lung health, the importance of the lungs to human health, and the forms of legislation that can help curb tobacco use.
How tobacco use leads to poor lung health
Smoking tobacco has been scientifically shown to damage the airways of the lungs and the small air sacs, known as the alveoli, found within them. Smoking tobacco can thus lead directly to lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and perhaps most notoriously, lung cancer. Regular, prolonged cigarette use can even increase a person’s chances of dying from emphysema or chronic bronchitis as much as thirteenfold. As well, those with asthma may experience asthma attacks upon smoking or even upon secondhand smoke exposure.
Why the lungs are vital to proper human health
Of course, lungs are the organs responsible for human breathing. Beyond this superficial function, the lungs take on a range of crucial roles, such as organ and bloodstream regulation. The lungs pass the oxygen brought into them into the bloodstream, where it reaches the body’s cells and ensures that its organs can properly do their jobs. Lung damage, which tobacco use can cause, is thus bad for far more than just breathing. Lung damage can wreak havoc on a person’s very being.
Current legislation for curbing tobacco use
Tobacco smoke affects people who don’t smoke tobacco as well. Many governments have enacted smokefree laws that forbid cigarette smoking in any indoor establishments, because tobacco smoke circulates far more freely in a closed environment than in the natural world. Such laws can also encourage smokers to quit, because these laws reduce the number of spaces in which a person can smoke tobacco.
In addition, every state imposes extra taxes on cigarette purchases. These taxes are in addition to, and completely separate from, ordinary state sales taxes and the federal tax rate on packs of cigarettes. In Virginia, this tax is only $0.30 per pack, whereas in New York, this tax is $4.35. Additional taxes on cigarettes can discourage consumers from purchasing them, leading to a decrease in the amount of tobacco smoked in the U.S.
How to quit using tobacco
Tobacco products are known to be addictive. Experts insist that breaking the addiction is both challenging and a simple matter of sticking to a routine. Some people recommend writing a list of reasons to quit smoking and referring back to them every time the craving for a cigarette reemerges. Additionally, it can be helpful to set a date on which to quit smoking and build an action plan via prescription drugs, nicotine replacement therapy, and emotional support.
In 2015, 68 percent of smokers reported a desire to quit. On World No Tobacco Day, using the information outlined above, many of them just might be able to succeed at doing so.