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About the Problem of Tobacco Use

Introduction

Tobacco is one of the most commonly used substances around the world. Indeed, reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) mention that it is one of the leading causes of death in the world and accounts for nearly 6 million deaths every year. Out of these deaths, more than 5 million are current tobacco users and former users while more than 600,000 are persons exposed to second-hand smoke. This figure implies that ten people die every minute from tobacco use, or one person every six seconds. WHO further estimates that nearly half of all tobacco users will die as a result of tobacco-related diseases.

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It is for this reason that this research paper will identify the extent of the tobacco problem by comparing smoking prevalence between three countries: Australia, Canada, and the Philippines. In addition, the paper will compare the health consequences of tobacco use in the three countries and point out the similarities and differences identified between these three countries.

Metric Australia Canada Philippines

Adult Prevalence, smoking, (%)

Male 38.2 15.1 38.2
Female 6.9 12.1 6.9
Total 22.5 13.6 22.5

cigarettess smoked daily among adults

Male 15.1 38.0
Female 12.1 6.7
Total 13.6

Adult Prevalence, smokelesstobacco, (%)

Male 2.8
Female 1.2
Total 0.6 2.0

Making Prevalence among persons aged 15+

Male 19 15 38
Female 16 12 8
Total 17 14 23

Cigarettess smoked daily among persons aged 15+

Male 19 15 38
Female 16 12 8
Total 17 14 23

Smokefreeenvironments

Public places with smoke-free legislation:
Health-care facilities No No* Yes
Educational facilities except for universities No No* Yes
Universities No No* Yes
Government facilities No Yes Yes
Indoor offices No No* No
Restaurants No No* No
Pubs and bars No No* No
Public transport No No* Yes
All other public places NA NA NA
Compliance score § 10 4
National law requires fines for smoking No Yes Yes
Fines levied on the establishment Yes Yes
Fines levied on the smoker Yes Yes
Dedicated funds for enforcement No Yes Yes
Citizen complaints and investigations No Yes Yes
§ A score of 0—10, where 0 is low compliance
* Smoke-free legislation does not meet the criteria for a complete ban, which is defined such that smoking is not allowed at any time in any indoor area under any circumstances. However, there is very strong subnational smoke-free legislation meeting these conditions

Health Consequences of Tobacco Use

Not only does tobacco cause several diseases in Australia, but it also is responsible for several diseases and can worsen certain conditions among patients. Tobacco causes cardiovascular disease (CVD). Indeed, CVD is the leading cause of death in Australia, accounting for an estimated 38% of all deaths in Australia and a lasting disability for at least 1.1 million persons.

Tobacco also causes lung cancer (the leading cause of death among Australian men and second among women), respiratory diseases such as Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other acute respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, bronchiolitis, pharyngitis, influenza, and pneumonia.

Tobacco affects the reproductive health, causes other types of cancers (e.g. laryngeal, oesophageal, pancreatic, and stomach cancers), affects fetal development, increases the susceptibility of smokers to certain health risks (influenza, legionnaire’s disease, periodontal disease), causes eye, dental and gastrointestinal diseases, and affects the body’s ability to control blood glucose levels thereby increasing the risks of premature death among persons with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes affects 8% of the Australian population.

Most smokers in Canada will die before their 70thbirthday. Smoking also causes CVD, which is a major cause of death in Canada. CVD includes heart disease, stroke, heart attacks, cardiac arrest, and plaque formation (atherosclerosis). Smoking causes various types of cancer including cancer of the lung, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix. In Canada, most deaths from lung cancer result from smoking. Smoking is also responsible for all new cases of lung cancer.

Smoking affects fetal growth and may result in “low birth weight” babies, stillbirth, and miscarriages. Even after birth, smoking mothers can pass noxious chemicals to infants through breast milk. Gastrointestinal effects of smoking include peptic ulcer, which is more likely to be contracted by smokers than non-smokers. Tobacco use has also been attributed to various oral health issues, mainly mouth cancer and dental diseases. Reports have shown a link between tobacco use and osteoporosis which increases the likelihood of a person having bone fractures.

Tobacco use results in poor quality of health thereby increasing the risk of death. In the Philippines, people who use tobacco are thrice more likely to pass away than those who do not use tobacco before reaching the age of 68.

Tobacco smoking also increases the risks of several types of cancer, including cancer of the lung, kidney, larynx, head, and neck, breast, pancreas, and stomach. Long-term exposure to harmful chemicals in tobacco is known to cause pulmonary damage resulting in diseases and conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.

CVD arises from tobacco use due to reactions within the heart and blood vessels as a result of the toxic contents of tobacco smoke. Smoking also increases the risks of contracting infectious diseases such as TB, reduces CD4 count thereby increasing HIV susceptibility, and accelerates infection rates of common cold, bronchitis, and emphysema.

Similaritiess and differences between the three countries

The three reports are similar on several points. However, the most common effect of tobacco use they all seem to stress is cardiovascular disease and various types of cancer. These two health problems are the leading causes of death in the three studied countries and it is no wonder they are broadly discussed. While the health effects of tobacco use in Canada and Australia seem almost similar, those in the Philippines differ slightly and this is perhaps due to the differences in lifestyle between the two developed countries (Canada and Australia) and the third developing country (Philippines).

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