The silent ma­jor­ity should no longer re­main silent to en­sure that our right to clean air is pro­tected

New Straits Times - - News -

THERE are more smok­ers to­day than ever be­fore. Al­though the per­cent­age of smok­ers may be de­creas­ing, there are al­most a bil­lion daily smok­ers across the globe.

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) pro­duced a re­port — the “Global Bur­den of Dis­ease” — stat­ing that a quar­ter of the male pop­u­la­tion smoked daily in 2015, and just over five per cent of women smoked as well.

Need­less to say, these fig­ures are linked to a sig­nif­i­cant amount of dis­ease and death — the lat­ter amount­ing to six mil­lion per an­num. How­ever, these num­bers do not paint the full pic­ture as they do not take into ac­count the ef­fect of to­bacco on those who do not smoke, such as sec­ond­hand or pas­sive smok­ers.

Sec­ond­hand smoke harms other adults and chil­dren. While this ap­plies to even those with­out any health is­sues, it is par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant to those who have un­der- ly­ing health prob­lems, such as asthma and heart dis­ease. The pres­ence of smoke from both to­bacco and elec­tronic cig­a­rettes are ir­ri­tants to the air­ways.

Vic­tims of sec­ond­hand smoke are usu­ally not in a po­si­tion to de­fend their rights to clean air. Chil­dren are par­tic­u­larly af­fected — it is well doc­u­mented that sec­ond­hand smoke causes more fre­quent and se­vere asthma at­tacks, stunts devel­op­ment of grow­ing lungs, in­creases ear and lung in­fec­tions and even in­creases the risk of sud­den in­fant death syn­drome.

Un­for­tu­nately, there is no risk­free level of sec­ond­hand smoke, as even the briefest of ex­po­sure can be harm­ful. This means the only way to pro­tect non-smok­ers is to en­sure that we have smoke­free en­vi­ron­ments.

In Septem­ber 2015, coun­tries within the WHO adopted a set of Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals (SDG) with the aim to end poverty, pro­tect the planet and en­sure

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