Tobacco is one of the leading preventable causes of death in Malaysia. Under the current law, smoking is banned in all public places. These include amusement centres, theatres, hospitals, clinics, public vehicles and air-conditioned restaurants. Likewise, anyone under age of eighteen is not allowed to buy cigarettes or any tobacco products. If the seller is not sure of the buyer’s age, then it is advisable to check his identity card. Free cigarette samples are not allowed to be distributed at the public events or places as this carries a maximum fine of RM 5000 or not more than two years’ jail. Cigarette advertisements in all locally published materials are also banned with the maximum fine. The purpose of our government set our all these rules is to control the use of tobacco in our country; however, smoking should be banned in a country because it is bad for health, environment and the economy.
Nicotine, which is an alkaloid derived from the tobacco plant, is a chemical that has powerful effects on the human body. It not only has direct effects to smokers’ health but also to the non-smokers’ health. When a smoker takes a long drag on his cigarette, he inhales deeply, forcing smoke into the remotest parts of his lungs. The smoke contains tar and nicotine, which attack thousands of air sacs in the lung; as he continues to smoke, his air passages become increasing coated with tar, which includes several cancers causing agents. As the tar residue continues to build up in the air passages over several years, they begin to change the surface cells of the passages cancer cells begin to increase in number within a few years, lung cancer often appears. By the time a diagnosis finally confirming the presence of lung cancer, the disease has usually spread beyond control. Furthermore, the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke pass through the placenta to the fetus.
It can result low birth weight babies who are more likely to have health and behavioral problems in children such as attention disorder during preschool or school age and they often need medical attention. In fact, maternal smoking is not the only problem; non-smoking mothers living in a house where someone smokes are also at increased risk for having low birth weight babies. Moreover, the most dramatic effect of maternal smoking is on the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS or crib death). SIDS is the most common cause of death in babies between the second week and first year of life. When a women smokes during pregnancy, the risk of SIDS is at least doubled, and possibly tripled. It is estimated that more than 1/3 of all SIDS deaths is due to maternal tobacco use.
Smoking is not simply a matter of personal choice when affects nonsmokers. Non-smoker’s health is threatened because they force to inhale the secondhand tobacco smoke (also called Environmental Tobacco Smoke, ETS). Environment tobacco smoke is made up of smoke that comes from the end of cigarettes (known as sidestream smoke) and the smoke that is exhaled from the smoker (known as mainstream smoke). Scientists have determined that sidestream has more carcinogens–cancer causing agents than mainstream smoke. In short, nonsmokers or secondhand smokers’ health is even worst than smokers although they did not touch the cigarettes for the reason that the chemicals that are inhaled from environment tobacco smoke are not safe for human and can cause serious health problem or make existing health problem even worse.
Environment tobacco smoke is a health hazard not only for people who live it day to day, but also for people who are exposed to it occasionally such as in restaurants of bars and for short period. Furthermore, environment tobacco smoke affects the respiratory of nonsmokers and can reduce lung function increasing coughing and chest discomfort. It can also cause eye irritation, sore throat in nonsmokers. Children are particularly vulnerable to environment tobacco smoke because their lung are still growing and developing. For instance, environment tobacco smoke makes existing asthma worse. It is a harmful indoor air pollutant and has serious health problems not only for children but for adults as well. Since even short exposure negatively affects the human body, reducing indoor environment tobacco smoke is essential to public health.
Besides human’s heath, tobacco production has dangerous consequences for health of our planet as well. Global impact of tobacco production is on forest reduces; deforestation is reaching crisis proportions in some developing countries. The tobacco industry’s biggest use of forest resources comes from curing tobacco. Tobacco is picked of a green leaf and must be cured to get the right taste and color and to preserve it. There are several different ways of curing tobacco, but the one that causes the most environmental damages is flue curing. Special stocks are built to flue cure tobacco.
They heat and keep the tobacco leaf at high temperatures. This process takes about a week. Various fuels can be used, but in developing countries (where deforestation has become a major problems) wood is the main fuel used. For example, tobacco related deforestation is probably most serious in Malawi where tobacco makes up 50% – 70% of all export earning. Almost all of the woodlands in the South have disappeared because wood is a major source of household fuel in Malawi, the scarcity of this resource become a serious problem. The area of all types of forest in most Asian and African countries are now below the level at which it is capable to meet current and future demand on a sustainable basis. Then, accelerating deforestation can be expected with potentially serious ecological consequences.
Most of people are aware of the health consequences of smoking, but are they aware of the damage that tobacco inflicts the health of economy! Tobacco has a huge negative impact on the world economy, resulting in the loss of billions dollars each years. Weighing the economic benefits of tobacco against costs of premature death, medical care and sick leave worldwide. It is estimated the net loss to be $200 billion per year. In many developing countries, a worker who becomes ill or dies from tobacco use leaves his or her family without an income, and the government rarely offers social assistance to ease their financial burden.
As for Malaysia government, it implements high taxes in tobacco products in order to pay for health care, also help to lower smoking rates. Moreover, the individual cost to a smoker’s health and well being is enormous, but financial costs are high as well. Smokers pay higher life insurance premium and contribute billion of dollars in taxes nonsmokers never have to pay. Smoking is also associated with the costs of physical damage such as burn holes in furniture, clothes, car interior and fires. And then, there is the cost of cigarettes themselves.
Nonsmokers have a higher risk of their health problems then smokers because they inhaled the environment tobacco smoke; babies who need more medical care and face some behavioral problems during preschool and some of them only have short life; this is unfair to them–passive smokers. They are victims in the use of tobacco smoking and killed by the tobacco smoke. Yet, our planet, which has potential serious ecological consequences because tobacco related deforestation. Tobacco use has negative economic consequences on every level– global, domestic and individuals. The tobacco has claimed that a major decrease in tobacco consumption would seriously damage the economy because the government revenues will be decreased. In fact, it will NOT in a long term. Overall speaking, tobacco smoking should be banned in a country in order to protect our planet, economy and individual’s health.