Tobacco control – A response to the global tobacco pandemic


National Environmental Health Association has planned to celebrate “World Environmental Health Day”  today, September 26, along with the International Federation of Environmental Health (IFEH) and many others to shed light on the important work of environmental health around the world to engage with the community on the issues of second and third hand tobacco exposure (National Environmental Health Association, 2016).

This year’s theme is “Tobacco Control” with a specific focus on the negative health effects of second and third hand smoke to both individuals and societies (American Public Health Association, 2016).


According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015),

  • 1 in 4 non-smokers (58 million people) in the US are still exposed to second hand smoke (SHS)
  • 2 in every 5 children (including 7 in 10 black children) are exposed to SHS
  • More than 1 in 3 non-smokers who live in rental housing are exposed to SHS


Tobacco is a green, leafy plant that is grown in warm climates. It is used in different ways. It can be chewed or snuffed through the nose. Nicotine is one of the 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes and it’s smoke. It is the chemical that make tobacco additive or habit forming. Once one smoke, chew or snuff tobacco, the nicotine goes into the blood stream and the body wants more. The nicotine in tobacco makes it a drug. This means that when we use tobacco, it changes our body in someway. Because nicotine is a stimulant, it speeds up the nervous system. It also makes the heart beat faster and raises blood pressure (Healthliteracy World, 2016).

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According to Healthliteracy World (2016), cigarettes do not just harm the people who smoke, they also harm the people who are near cigarettes and breathe the smoke. This includes fetus, causing still birth, underweight baby, birth defects and premature birth. They breathe the second-hand smoke. It is also called passive smoke, involuntary and environmental tobacco smoke. About 53,000 people die from second-hand smoke every year. When we breathe second-hand smoke, we are breathing the same 4,000 chemicals a cigarette the smoker breathes. 51 of those chemicals causes cancer.

According to International Federation of Environmental Health (2016), smoking and the use of tobacco is the primary cause of preventable illness and death. 6 million people are killed globally by tobacco every year. There is a clear evidence to link tobacco to lung cancer but there is also evidence of an association with cancer of the kidney, cancer of the larynx, head and neck; breast cancer, bladder, oesophagus, pancreas and stomach cancer. About a half of all life-long smokers will die prematurely and on average, cigarette smokers die 10 years younger than non-smokers. Smoking is therefore a public health and environmental health issue worldwide.

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  • Federal Government should monitor second-hand smoke exposure, educating the public about the dangers of second-hand smoke, regulating tobacco products, encouraging smoke-free policies in subsidized and public housing, creating tobacco-free environment for employees, customers and partners.
  • State and community can work to prohibit smoking in all indoor public places, support efforts to prohibit smoking in multi-unit housing, fund comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programs.
  • Healthcare providers can ask patients whether they use tobacco products, encourage those who do to quit, provide helps with quitting, encourage their non-smoking patients to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke where they live, work and talk with them about the dangers of second-hand smoke.
  • Everyone can make their homes and vehicles 100% smoke-free; opening a window or using fans; not allowing anyone to smoke around children and talk to the children about why they shouldn’t smoke or be around second-hand smoke (CDC, 2015).
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American Public Health Association (2016). Tobacco harms in more ways than one: Take a second look! Retrieved from

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). Secondhand smoke: An unequal danger. Retrieved from

Healthliteracy world (2016). From the first to the last ash: Health dangers of smoking for non-smokers. Retrieved from

Healthliteracy world (2016). From the first to the last ash: History, economic and hazards of tobacco. Retrieved from

International Federation of Environmental Health (2016). Smoking and the use of tobacco. Retrieved from http://www.

National Environmental Health Association (2016). Tobacco and environmental health implications. Retrieved from


Compiled by:

Olaleye, Abisoye G.

Ajayi, Alexandra D.


For: Institute of Nursing Research, Fellowship of Christian Nurses, South West Zone, Nig



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