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KUWAIT CITY, June 4: The World Heart Federation is joining the World Health Organization’s ‘World No Tobacco Day’ campaign to encourage people to adopt a healthier lifestyle. A healthy diet is essential in preventing and reducing heart disease risk factors. Daily consumption of nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grain is the foundation of a hearthealthy diet. On the other hand, tobacco poses a serious threat to human health, claiming over eight million lives each year, including 1.2 million nonsmokers due to second-hand exposure.
Tobacco is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, accounting for approximately 17% of all cardiovascular disease deaths. Tobacco prevention and cessation are among the most effective interventions to prevent heart disease. Dr Mohammad Al Jarallah, Chief Medical Officer and Head of the department of Cardiology, Sabah Al Ahmad Cardiac Center, Al Amiri Hospital says, tobacco use increases the risk of developing CVD, including coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. It does so by damaging the lining of blood vessels, causing infl ammation and narrowing of the vessels, and increasing blood pressure and heart rate. The chemicals in tobacco smoke also increase the risk of blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Dr Rajesh Rajan, Cardiologist, Sabah Al Ahmad Cardiac Center, Al Amiri Hospital says, let’s say the slogan together: “Say no to tobacco”. Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits for cardiovascular health. Within just a few hours of quitting, blood pressure and heart rate decrease, and within a few weeks, circulation and lung function improve. Over time, the risk of CVD decreases significantly, with the risk of heart attack and stroke decreasing by half after just one year of quitting.
In addition to the health benefits for individuals, tobacco cessation also has economic benefits for society. The cost of treating CVD and other tobacco-related diseases puts a significant strain on healthcare systems and economies. By reducing the number of tobacco users, healthcare costs can be reduced, and productivity can be increased, says Dr Jarallah. The negative impact of tobacco on human health extends beyond direct and indirect exposure. Studies show that tobacco harms the environment throughout its entire life cycle. The production of tobacco and nicotine products has significant repercussions on deforestation, air pollution, carbon emissions, and climate change, which all affect heart health. Air pollution alone is responsible for nearly 25% of all deaths from ischemic heart disease and stroke. Tobacco farming depletes soil fertility, hinders sustainable food production in low- and middle-income countries, and threatens global food security.
Governments should end subsidies for tobacco growing and support farmers in transitioning to alternative sustainable and nutritious crops by providing technical advice, essential supplies, financial aid, and market facilitation, says Dr Rajan. The tobacco industry must stop over-exaggerating the economic value of tobacco farming for local and national economies. No matter how we look at it, tobacco harms the health and livelihood of millions throughout its entire life cycle. On World No Tobacco Day, WHF urges all countries and relevant stakeholders to fully implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In particular, governments should prevent further tobacco industry interference in governmental affairs, scale up tobacco cessation services, help farmers plant food instead of tobacco, and ultimately bring an end to the tobacco pandemic once and for all.
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